Outdoor Track: Host Lobos Finish Strong At MWC Championship Meet
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Sophomore Amanda Barnes historic gold medal in the womens shot put was the highlight of the University of New Mexico's performance this afternoon on the final day of the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track Championships at Great Friends of UNM Track Stadium. Barnes led a strong effort by the Lobos New Mexican athletes by becoming the first female thrower in program history to capture a conference title. The UNM women finished seventh with 49.5 points, while the men were fourth for the third-straight year, scoring 91 points.
Barnes squeezed by Colorado State senior Hannah Metzler by 0.75 inches and surpassed defending champion Andrea Batt of Wyoming by nearly a foot to win the event with a toss of 48-06.25. The Carlsbad, N.M. native improved on her school record and NCAA regional qualifying mark by five inches as New Mexico made it five years in a row with at least one womens champion.
Junior Jason Barkermeyer turned in a strong performance of his own in the mens shot put. The Belen, N.M. native earned all-MWC honors for the first time in his career with a career-best and NCAA regional qualifying mark of 55-05.25 (3rd). After failing to record a mark on Friday in his best event, the discus, Barkermeyer earned his highest finish in three outdoor championship appearances in his final event of the weekend.
In other mens field event action, sophomore Hank Baskett and the mens javelin crew enjoyed a fine afternoon as well. Baskett cleared 6-09.50 in the high jump to finish second in the event for the second-straight year. Baskett actually cleared the same height at the winner, Jacob Benson of CSU, but used more attempts to gain his mark. The 6-4 Clovis, N.M. native, who also doubles as a wide receiver for the UNM football team, was making his season-debut after rejoining the team just one week ago.
The Lobos all-New Mexico javelin crew of Matt Keeran (Albuquerque), Dan Feltman (Deming), Ruben Trujillo (Los Lunas), Jimmy Minner (Albuquerque) and Craig Keish (Albuquerque) placed 2-4-6-7-8 in the finals of the event to net 19 points for UNM. Keeran established a career-best with a throw of 206-09, while Feltman turned in a season-best of 195-06.
On the track, junior Ahmed Raji just missed on his upset bid in the 200 meters, finishing second with a regional qualifying time of 20.88. Raji led for roughly 180 meters before being overtaken by CSUs Chris Riggs, who finished with a time of 20.82. Earlier in the day, Raji and senior David Lloyd led the Lobos 4x100m relay to a third place finish with a Midwest Regional qualifying time of 40.55. Lloyds strong lead leg also helped the mens mile relay team earn all-conference honors for the second-straight season. UNM finished second to BYU, its best finish in four MWC championship meets, clocking a time of 3:12.50. Lloyd, who was appearing in his final meet in Albuquerque, also finished fourth in the 100 (career-best 10.43) and 400-meter hurdles (51.46 season-best).
In what was perhaps the race of the day, sophomore Matt Gonzales continued a strong day by head coach Matt Henrys New Mexican athletes, finishing second in the 5,000 meters. Gonzales took the lead on the second lap of the race, followed closely by distance rival Kip Kangogo of BYU. The duo pulled away from the pack and raced side-by-side before Kangogo surged ahead for good with 200 meters to go. Gonzales clocked his second-fastest time of the year, finishing in 14:36.99, three seconds behind Kangogo, to earn all-conference honors for the first time outdoors.
Senior Keren Sari-Bentzur concluded her memorable career in Albuquerque by notching four more points in the high jump (5th 5-05.00) and a pair in the triple jump (7th 38-06.75) to give her a team-high 19 for the meet. Despite her multi-event prowess, Sari-Bentzur did not qualify for the Midwest Regional meet in any one event, but should earn a bid to the NCAA Championships for the second-straight year with her provisional qualifying score of 5,236 in the heptathlon.
Other event finalists included: junior Chris Garofola (8th 100m), true freshman RaShawn Jackon of Hobbs, N.M. (6th 400m), sophomore Cameron Clarke of Albuquerque (7th 1,500m), sophomore Willie Yuen of Albuquerque (8th triple jump), junior Sarah Gonzales of Albuquerque (8th 5,000), junior Erin Johnson of Albuquerque (T6th high jump) and sophomore Veronica Gonzales of Carlsbad (6th javelin).
In the final team standings, an inspired San Diego State womens team ended BYUs stunning 22-year conference championship streak (dating back to the Western Athletic Conference) with a 217-206 victory. The Aztecs trailed the Cougars by two points with just two events, the mile relay and triple jump, remaining. SDSU cruised to victory in the 4x400 relay, then finished 1-3 in the triple jump to claim its first MWC title. On the mens side, BYU made it four-straight with a 270-230 victory over runner-up CSU.
Complete meet results are available on www.themwc.com.