Outdoor Track: Lobos Open Competition At Prestigious Mt. SAC Relays Today
UPCOMING The University of New Mexico track and field team begins the final stretch of the 2003 outdoor season when it takes on some of the nation’s best at the 45th running of the famed Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif. this weekend. The competition gets underway today with the invitational multi-event competition, which will be held at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. New Mexico sophomore Ryan Voge and freshman Dan Feltman will compete in the decathlon, while senior Keren Sari-Bentzur will join the heptathlon field. The rest of the team begins competition on Thursday, April 18 and concludes on Saturday, April 19. All preliminary and final events will be held at Hilmer Lodge Stadium on the campus of Mt. San Antonio Community College.
UNM head coach Matt Henry will be looking for strong performances out of his men and women as the squad nears the Mountain West Conference and NCAA Midwest Regional Championship meets. Last year, New Mexico enjoyed a tremendous four days at Mt. SAC, beginning with Sari-Bentzur’s career-best and NCAA qualifying score of 5,371 points in the heptathlon. The Omer, Israel native recorded season-bests in all seven events and finished just 48 points shy of the 12-year-old UNM heptathlon record. Ben Ortega and Matt Gonzales each finished fourth in the 10,000m and 5,000m, respectively, on the first full day of competition. Ortega clocked a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 29:35.00, while Gonzales recorded a career-best time of 14:08.55. Monique Harris scored a victory in the long jump and finished fourth in the invitational triple jump competition, while David Lloyd was second among collegiate competitors with a time of 51.17 in the 400-meter hurdles.
MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS Complete information and results from the 45th Mt. SAC Relays can be found on the official website of the Mt. SAC Relays:
The results of the Mt. SAC heptathlon and decathlon competition will be available on the official website of the Azusa Pacific University athletic department: www.apu.edu/athletics/trackandfield
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING 101 The 2003 outdoor track and field season will be unique as the NCAA will use head-to-head competition for the first to determine the national championship field. This year, athletes must meet regional qualifying standards during the season to secure a berth in the field of their respective regional championship meets (East, Mideast, Midwest, West). Once at the regional meet, athletes need only to finish in the top-five of their respective events to advance to the national championship meet. However, competitors in the 10,000-meter run, heptathlon and decathlon still must use the old system of meeting provisional or automatic qualifying standards to earn a spot in the national championship field. The following is a quick overview of the NCAA Championship qualifying system:
Regional Qualifying: Athletes must meet minimum standards in their respective events, except for the 10,000m and heptathlon/decathlon, during the regular season in order to compete at the NCAA Regional Championship Meets the last weekend of May.
National Qualifying: Athletes, except for competitors in the 10,000 and heptathlon/decathlon, must place among the top-five in their respective events at the regional championship meet in order to advance to the national championship meet, June 11-4 in Sacramento, Calif. Provisional Qualifying Standards: Competitors in the 10K and heptathlon/decathlon who meet the provisional qualifying standard during the season are candidates to be selected for the national championship field. Provisional qualifiers are selected using a descending order performance list. The number of athletes selected from the provisional qualifiers list is determined by the number of automatic qualifiers in each event. The total number of athletes in the national championship field of each event is generally 16-18. Automatic Qualifying Standards: Competitors in the 10K or heptathlon/decathlon who meet the automatic qualifying standard during the season are guaranteed a spot in the national championship field.
LAST TIME (LSU Alumni Gold) BATON ROUGE, La. -- The University of New Mexico men’s mile relay team had its best performance under head coach Matt Henry to highlight a solid day by the Lobos at the LSU Alumni Gold meet on April 12 at Bernie Moore Stadium. The foursome of David Lloyd, Nick Lott, Chris Garofola and Ahmed Raji improved on the squad’s previous career best by nearly two seconds to clock a Midwest regional qualifying time of 3:10.63. New Mexico just missed on its upset bid, finishing second in the race, .03 seconds behind a powerful LSU team.
Sophomore Matt Gonzales continued his stellar season by picking up the lone UNM victory of the day in the 1,500m. Gonzales finished the race in a regional qualifying time of 3:48.63, the fastest ever run in the Henry era. Junior Sean Flaherty also had his best 1,500 race, finishing third with a time of 3:50.73. Sophomore Cameron Clarke was just off the pace, taking fourth with a time of 3:52.07.
On the women’s side, sophomore Amanda Barnes improved her UNM school record and Midwest regional ranking with a runner-up throw of 48-01.25 in the shot put. Fellow sophomores Veronica Gonzales (138-01) and Amber Nolte (10-11.75) also finished second in the javelin and pole vault, respectively.
Juniors Amanda Swann and Sarah Gonzales had solid performances in the distance events. Swann recorded a time of 4:44.04 to finish fourth in her first 1,500 of the season, while Gonzales clocked a season-best 17:51.63 to place second in the 5,000.
Junior Jason Barkermeyer led the UNM men’s efforts in the field, recording a career-best mark of 160-08 to finish fourth in the discus. Barkermeyer also placed fourth in the shot put with a toss of 49-03. Back on the track, Raji clocked a season-best time of 21.49 to finish seventh in the 200.
MORE FROM LSU Despite being the only western team in attendance, New Mexico apparently felt right at home in Louisiana bayou country last weekend as the Lobos recorded season-best marks in 16 events, including 10 on the women’s side. Competing against a nine teams, including Pat Henry’s No. 2 LSU Tiger men and women, several UNM athletes turned heads with their performances.
True freshman Kimilia Davis recorded team-bests and climbed up the MWC rankings in both the 200 (24.94) and 400 (56.68), while junior Sarah Gonzales clocked a personal-best time of 17:51.63 to move into ninth on the 5,000-meter rankings. Davis helped the women’s third-ranked mile relay team drop its time by over five seconds (3:52.73), while sophomore Amanda Barnes bettered her school record with a throw of 48-01.25 in the shot put. Fellow sophomore Jamie Fishencord also bettered her team-leading marks in the discus (126-07.00) and hammer (140-06.00).
On the men’s side, junior Chris Garofola clocked his personal-best in the 100 (10.79), while senior Quincy Wright ran a solid 10.96 in his first meet since tearing his ACL during the fall football season. Junior transfer Ahmed Raji climbed to the top of the MWC rankings with a career-best time of 21.49 in the 200, then led the Lobo 4x400 relay team (including Garofola, Nick Lott and David Lloyd) to a No. 9 Midwest region ranking with a time of 3:10.63. Sophomore Matt Gonzales led a stellar performance by a trio of UNM 1,500-meter runners, which included junior Sean Flaherty and sophomore Cameron Clarke. Gonzales (3:48.63) and Flaherty (3:50.73) ran the two fastest times in Matt Henry’s three-year tenure, while Clarke (3:52.07) missed his career-best by .11 seconds. Junior Jason Barkermeyer capped the meet by launching the discus 160-08, surpassing his personal-best for the second-straight meet.
QUALIFIED Entering the Mt. SAC Relays, eight New Mexico athletes and the men’s 4x400m relay team have earned qualifying marks for either the NCAA national or regional championship meets later this spring. Sophomore Matt Gonzales became the first Lobo under head coach Matt Henry’s tenure to earn an automatic bid to the national championships with his time of 28:38.64 in the 10,000 at the Stanford Invitational (March 28). Gonzales will also be the first member of the UNM men’s team to compete at the NCAA Championships since 1998. Currently ranked third in the country, and No. 1 among American runners, Gonzales will compete in the 10K at the NCAA’s in Sacramento, Calif. on June 11. Meanwhile, senior Keren Sari-Bentzur, a 2002 NCAA participant, also has a good chance to join Gonzales in Sacramento. Sari-Bentzur is currently ranked ninth in the nation after surpassing the national provisional qualifying standard in the heptathlon with a score of 5,170 at the Don Kirby Invitational. The 10,000 and heptathlon/decathlon are not held at the NCAA regional meets, so national championship participants are determined using the old automatic and provisional qualifying standards.
Seven Lobos and the men’s mile relay team of David Lloyd, Nick Lott, Chris Garofola, and Ahmed Raji have also qualified for the Midwest Regional Championship meet in Lincoln, Neb. (May 30-31), where they will have a chance to move on to Sacramento with a top-five finish in their respective events. Sophomore Nick Martinez is ranked fifth in the region in the 5,000 after clocking a 14:23.55 at the Stanford Invite, while senior David Lloyd’s 400-meter hurdles time of 51.87 in the prelims of the Texas Relays (April 3) is ranked third in the region. Junior Branden Bennett is tied for eighth in the Midwest after clearing 16-04.75 in the pole vault at the Texas Relays (April 5), while sophomore Matt Keeran’s mark of 205-09 at Texas (April 4) is currently ranked 17th among the region’s javelin throwers. On the women’s side, sophomore Amanda Barnes’ school record-setting shot put toss of 48-01.25 at LSU is ranked seventh while fellow sophomore, and former high school teammate, Veronica Gonzales is ranked 24th in the javelin with a top mark of 138-10 at NMSU. Matt Gonzales (1,500) and the men’s mile relay team recently added their names to the list of regional qualifiers, where they are ranked fifth and ninth, respectively.
DANDY DUO The University of New Mexico has a pair of athletes ranked among the most recent Trackwire.com top-12, or “Dandy Dozen”, event rankings list of the 2003 outdoor season. Sophomore Matt Gonzales, an NCAA automatic qualifier in the 10,000 is currently ranked eighth in the event by Trackwire. Meanwhile, senior Keren Sari-Bentzur, who placed ninth in the heptathlon at the 2002 NCAA Championships, is the 11th-ranked heptathlete in the latest Trackwire “Dandy Dozen” list. BARNES STORMING Sophomore Amanda Barnes wasted little time in establishing herself as the best shot put performer in UNM women’s track and field history. In just her eighth career meet, Barnes set a new school record with a winning toss of 47-05.25 at the UTEP Springtime Invitational on March 29. The Carlsbad, N.M. native eclipsed Myra Smith’s 1994 record of 47-05.00 one month after surpassing Smith’s nine-year-old indoor record. Barnes recently added to her record, with a throw of 48-01.25 at the LSU Alumni Gold meet on April 12. Currently ranked No. 2 in the Mountain West Conference, Barnes placed fifth at the 2002 MWC Championship meet with a season-best throw of 46-08.75.
Barnes has improved her personal-best by nearly four feet since coming to UNM and has earned three career victories in the shot put. According to head coach Matt Henry, the presence of volunteer assistant coach Matt Kraft, a former Lobo thrower, this season has been a tremendous help to Barnes and the rest of the UNM throwers. With Kraft on board, up-and-coming Lobo throwers, like Barnes, are getting the one-on-one specialized training they need to take their performances to the next level. Barnes’ performance in the season-opener secured her spot in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship field on May 30 in Lincoln, Neb. Currently ranked seventh in the region, Barnes must place among the top-five in Nebraska to advance to the national championships in Sacramento, Calif.
GONZALES NAMED MWC MEN’S ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Sophomore Matt Gonzales was selected as the Mountain West Conference Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week the league office announced on April 1. Gonzales is the first Lobo to earn the weekly award this year and fourth outdoor track athlete of the week honoree in head coach Matt Henry’s tenure.
Gonzales turned in the best race of his collegiate track career, finishing third in the top section of the 10,000 meters at the elite Stanford Invitational with a time of 28:38.64 to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Outdoor Championship field in Sacramento, Calif. His time was 22 seconds under the NCAA automatic qualifying standard and over three minutes faster than his previous personal-best, recorded in a fourth place finish at the 2001 MWC Championships. The blazing time was also a new Mountain West Conference all-time record (29:05.37 - Teren Jameson, Utah), the fastest run by an American this year and the NCAA’s third-fastest time.
A 2001 cross country All-American, Gonzales led all MWC competitors in the race and finished just five seconds behind the 10K winner, Joep Tigchelaar of Florida State. The Santa Fe native is the first member of the UNM men's team to earn a spot in the NCAA Championship field since 1998 and the first athlete in Henry's three years to earn an automatic qualifying mark.
Three Lobos were voted Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week in 2002. Senior David Lloyd became the first member of the UNM men’s team to earn the award on March 26, followed by junior Ben Ortega (April 25) and Kelli Myers (May 7). In its first two years of MWC competition, New Mexico had just one athlete (Monique Harris - 2000) honored by the conference.
Sophomore transfer Bridgid Isworth became the first UNM woman ever selected to compete at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships when she was picked to join the pole vault field in Fayetteville, Ark. Isworth, who soared a season-high 13-02.50 en route to the MWC pole vault title, was the 16th and final competitor selected for the NCAA indoors. However, the Melbourne, Australia native finished tied for 12th with her vault of 12-11.50 on May 15 at the Randal Tyson Track Center. Boasting a career-best mark of 14-01.25, Isworth will make her outdoor debut this weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays. 1$