Outdoor Track: Lobos To Sample MWC Competition At Colorado State Meet
UPCOMING The University of New Mexico track and field team will make a surprise appearance in Fort Collins, Colo. this Saturday when it joins the field of Colorado State’s Jack Christiansen Invitational. New Mexico was originally scheduled to send a small group of athletes to the Penn Relays and Oregon Invitational, but head coach Matt Henry opted to bring a larger contingent to compete in neighboring Colorado as the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships draw near. The field events at the Jack Christiansen Invitational get underway at 9 a.m. (MDT) with the running events to follow at 10:30 a.m. at the Jack Christiansen Memorial Track.
Former UNM head coach Del Hessel leads CSU, which generally boasts two of the top men’s and women’s track programs in the MWC. Conference foe Wyoming will also be in attendance, along with several regional schools from throughout the state of Colorado. Many of the schools in the field, including Colorado State and Wyoming, were slated to be among the field of the Modrall Sperling Don Kirby Invitational earlier this year in Albuquerque before inclement weather forced the cancelation of the meet. The Jack Christiansen Invitational will be New Mexico’s second scored meet of the 2003 regular season. The Lobos split their dual meet versus UTEP on March 29 with the women defeating the Miners 80-78, while the men fell 101-78.
MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS Complete information and results from the Jack Christiansen Invitational can be found on the official website of the Colorado State University athletic department:
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 (Mt. SAC Relays) WALNUT, Calif. -- Sophomore Bridgid Isworth’s school-record setting mark of 12-07.50 in the invitational section of the women’s pole vault capped a strong four days (April 16-19) of action for the University of New Mexico at the 45th Mt. SAC Relays. Isworth secured her place in the NCAA Midwest Regional field by surpassing Krissy Owen’s 1999 mark of 12-04.00 to finish tied for 11th (invitational section) in her outdoor season debut.
Sophomore Matt Gonzales led the men once again, clocking the second-fastest 5,000-meter time in Mountain West Conference and earning a spot in the regional field with his time of 13:48.35 (22nd overall) in the invitational section of the 5K. Junior transfer Ahmed Raji also eclipsed his career-best in the 200m, finishing 15th in the open section with a time of 21.46. Sophomores Veronica Gonzales also turned in a career-best performance, finishing seventh in the javelin with a mark of 139 feet.
In other action from Hilmer Lodge Stadium, sophomore Amber Nolte finished tied for 10th in the open section of the pole vault with a season-best mark of 11-06.00, while fellow sophomore Amanda Barnes was also tied for 10th with a toss of 47-07.50 in the open shot put competition. Sophomore Matt Keeran led the men in the field, finishing sixth in the open javelin with a throw of 203-03.00. Back on the track, senior David Lloyd clocked a regional qualifying time of 52.70 in the 400-meter hurdles (22nd overall), while sophomores Nick Martinez (14:33.86) and Cameron Clarke (14:43.82) were fifth and 11th, respectively, in the open 5,000m race.
Senior Keren Sari-Bentzur led Lobo effort in the multi-event competitions in Azusa, Calif., finishing sixth in the Mt. SAC Relays heptathlon with a season-best score of 5,236. Sari-Bentzur recorded season-bests in the long jump (19-02.75), high jump (5-06.50) and 800 (2:24.09) to finish second among collegiate competitors. Meanwhile, sophomore transfer Ryan Voge finished 10th in his second career decathlon with a season-best score of 6,399 points.
WHO'S IN? Entering the Jack Christiansen Invitational, nine 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. 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 seventh in the nation with her national provisional qualifying heptathlon score of 5,236 at the Mt. SAC Relays.
Eight 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 12th in the region in the 5,000 after clocking a personal-best 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 is ranked ninth in the region. Junior Branden Bennett is tied for 11th in the Midwest after clearing 16-04.75 in the pole vault at the Texas Relays, while sophomore Matt Keeran’s mark of 205-09 at Texas is currently ranked 16th among the region’s javelin throwers. The men’s mile relay team top time of 3:10.63 at LSU was the fastest run in head coach Matt Henry’s three-year tenure and is ranked 11th in the Midwest. Matt Gonzales has qualified with personal bests in both the 5,000 (13:48.35 - at Mt. SAC) and 1,500-meter (3:48.63 - at LSU) races, where he is ranked second and 12th, respectively.
On the women’s side, sophomore Amanda Barnes’ school record-setting shot put toss of 48-01.25 at LSU is ranked ninth while fellow sophomore, and former high school teammate, Veronica Gonzales is ranked 26th in the javelin with a career-best mark of 139-00 at Mt. SAC . Sophomore Bridgid Isworth became the most recent UNM athlete to join the regional championship field with her school record-setting mark of 12-07.50 in the pole vault at the Mt. SAC Relays. Isworth is currently ranked fourth in the Midwest pole vault rankings.
NCAA Automatic Qualifiers So. Matt Gonzales 10,000m • 28:38.64 • Stanford Invitational - Stanford, Calif. (March 28)
NCAA Provisional Qualifiers Sr. Keren Sari-Bentzur Heptathlon • 5,236 pts. • Mt. SAC Relays - Azusa, Calif. (April 16-17)
NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifiers So. Amanda Barnes Shot Put • 48-01.25 • LSU Alumni Gold - Baton Rouge, La. (April 12)
Jr. Branden Bennett Pole Vault • 16-04.75 • Texas Relays - Austin, Texas (April 5)
So. Matt Gonzales 1,500m • 3:48.63 • LSU Alumni Gold - Baton Rouge, La. (April 12) 5,000m • 13:48.35 • Mt. SAC Relays - Walnut, Calif. (April 17)
So. Veronica Gonzales Javelin • 139-00.00 • Mt. SAC Relays - Walnut, Calif. (April 17)
So. Bridgid Isworth Pole Vault • 12-07.50 • Mt. SAC Relays - Walnut, Calif. (April 19)
So. Matt Keeran Javelin • 205-09.00 • Texas Relays - Austin, Texas (April 4)
Sr. David Lloyd 400m Hurdles • 51.87 • Texas Relays - Austin, Texas (April 3)
So. Nick Martinez 5,000m • 14:23.55 • Stanford Invitational - Stanford, Calif. (March 28)
Men’s 4x400m Relay Team (Sr. David Lloyd, Sr. Nick Lott, Jr. Chris Garofola, Jr. Ahmed Raji) 3:10.63 • LSU Alumni Gold - Baton Rouge, La. (April 12)
SWIFTER, HIGHER, STRONGER Under the direction of third-year head coach Matt Henry and his staff, the 2003 Lobos have continued to improve their outdoor performances. This season the Lobos have eclipsed the top marks of a year ago in 10 events. Each of the top marks is also the best in Henry’s tenure at New Mexico. The following is a breakdown of the improvement the men and women have made this winter on their top event marks of the 2002 outdoor season:
Women (5 events) 5,000m: (17:53.35 ~ 17:51.63, -1.72 sec.), Pole Vault: (12-00.00 ~ 12-07.50, +7.5 in.), Shot Put: (46-08.75 ~ 48-01.25, +1 ft., 4.5 in.), Hammer: (no competitors ~ 140-06.00), Javelin: (125-10.00 ~ 139-00.00, +13 ft., 2 in.).
Men (5 events) 1,500m: (3:51.96 ~ 3:48.63, -3.33 sec.), 5,00m: (14:08.55 ~ 13:48.35, -20.20 sec.), 10,00m: (29:11.67 ~ 28:38.64, -33.03 sec.), 4x400m Relay: (3:12.08 ~ 3:10.63, -1.45 sec.), Pole Vault: (16-00.00 ~ 16-04.75, +4.75 in.).
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. AUSTRALIAN RULES VAULTING It took sophomore Bridgid Isworth all of two meets to establish herself as the best women’s pole vaulter in Lobo history. The Melbourne, Australia native shattered the indoor record with a clearance of 13-01.50 in her indoor season debut on Jan. 25 at the Air Force Invitational, then secured the outdoor record with a mark of 12-07.50 in her spring debut on April 19 at the Mt. SAC Relays.
Following a season-best mark of 13-02.50 en route to the MWC pole vault title, Isworth became the first woman in UNM history to advance to the NCAA Indoor Championships. The 16th and final competitor selected for the pole vault field in Fayetteville, Ark., Isworth moved up to finish tied for 12th (12-11.50) at the meet.
Boasting a career-best mark of 14-01.25 while competing for the Box Hill club team in Melbourne, Isworth claimed a bronze medal for Australia at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England. She is the second Aussie to come to Albuquerque and rewrite the New Mexico pole vaulting records, following former men’s great Simon Arkell. A native of Stirling, Australia, Arkell was a six-time Western Athletic Conference champion (1987-91), three-time All-American and also holds both the UNM indoor (18-01.50) and outdoor (18-02.00) records in the event. UNM assistant coach Scott Steffan was a teammate of Arkell’s and, with the recruitment of athletes such as Isworth, has worked to make the pole vault a marquee event once again at New Mexico.
BARNES STORMING Like Bridgid Isworth, sophomore Amanda Barnes wasted little time in proving herself as the best shot put performer in UNM women’s track and field history. In just her eighth career outdoor 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 11-year-old indoor record with a toss of 47-00.25. Barnes recently added to her outdoor mark, 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 throws team. 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 has secured her spot in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships and will now look to join the national championship field with a strong performance on May 30 in Lincoln, Neb. Currently ranked ninth 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.