Outdoor Track: Lobo Pair Leads New Mexico On National Stage5|1st|
UPCOMING Senior Keren Sari-Bentzur and sophomore Matt Gonzales will carry the University of New Mexico flag this week at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. Gonzales, who also qualified in the 1,500, will only compete in the 10,000-meter race on Thursday night at 10:40 p.m. (MST). Sari-Bentzur, meanwhile, opens the first of seven heptathlon events at 11 a.m., Friday morning. The heptathlon competition concludes on Friday morning with the final event beginning at 3:40 p.m. The meet will be held at the 21,000-seat Hornet Stadium on the A.G. Spanos Sports Complex on the campus of CSU-Sacramento.
MEET INFORMATION/RESULTS Complete information and results from the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships can be found on the official website of the California State University-Sacramento athletic department:
THE ROAD TO SACRAMENTO For the second-straight season, New Mexico qualified two athletes to the NCAA Championships. Senior Keren Sari-Bentzur makes her second appearance in the heptathlon, while sophomore Matt Gonzales will make his debut on the national track and field stage in the 10,000 meters.
Gonzales enters the meet ranked fourth in the nation in the 10K with a top time of 28:38.64. The Santa Fe native clocked the time in his season-opener back on March 28 at the Stanford Invitational, his only 10,000-meter competition of the season. The time was 22 seconds under the NCAA automatic qualifying standard, shattered the Mountain West Conference record by 26 seconds and was nearly two seconds below the automatic qualifying time for the USA national meet. Gonzales was also a stunning NCAA automatic qualifier in the 1,500 after winning the race at the Midwest Regional in a time of 3:42.83, the fastest regional championship time in the nation.
With another 10,000-meter competition looming just seven days later on June 19th at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Gonzales said he was tempted to limit himself to the 1,500. However, with his No. 4 national ranking in the event and perhaps running the best he ever has over the past month, the opportunity to challenge for a national title was one that could not be passed up. While this is Gonzales’ first appearance at the NCAA track championships, he has made back-to-back trips to the national cross country championship meet, and earned All-America honors with his 30th place finish. Gonzales also competed at the 2000 Division II national cross country meet and earned All-America honors by placing 37th as a true freshman at New Mexico Highlands University.
Sari-Bentzur, meanwhile, was once again the leader of a young women’s squad this spring. She has been a workhorse, competing in 34 events, including three heptathlon competitions since March 20. The Omer, Israel native surpassed the provisional qualifying heptathlon score in all three competitions this spring and recorded a season-high of 5,236 points at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 16-17. Ranked among the Trackwire.com “Dandy Dozen” for much of the season, Sari-Bentzur is currently No. 19 entering the NCAA meet. She placed fourth in her most recent heptathlon, at the Mountain West Conference Championships, with a final score of 5,170. The lone Lobo with Division I national track and field championship experience, Sari-Bentzur will close her steller UNM career with her second-straight appearance at the NCAA meet.
NEW MEXICO OUTDOOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY The University of New Mexico will be appearing at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the second-straight year after a three-year hiatus. Last year, Keren Sari-Bentzur and Kelli Myers represented UNM in the heptathlon and high jump, respectively. Despite suffering a sprained ankle the week before competition, Sari-Bentzur placed ninth in the heptathlon with a score of 5,285, 36 points shy of eighth place and All-America honors. Myers, meanwhile, did not clear the starting bar height in the high jump. Matt Gonzales is the first member of the UNM men’s team to compete at the national meet since hammer thrower Stephen Dunbar in 1998.
Since 1930, New Mexico has had 32 individuals (24 men, 8 women) and four relay teams (2 men’s, 2 women’s) earn All-America laurels at the national outdoor championships. Lobo athletes have also captured eight outdoor national titles in that span, including six on the men’s side. Tangi Galloway and Sara Nicholson were the last Lobo All-Americans in 1996. Galloway placed fourth in the 10,000 as a sophomore, while Nicholson, then a junior, was 12th in the javelin. UNM hasn’t had a men’s All-American since 1991, when pole vaulter Simon Arkell earned honors for the third-consecutive year. Susan Vigil captured the last outdoor national title for New Mexico, winning the 800 at the 1979 AIAW Championships. It’s been 36 years since a member of the men’s team won an outdoor national title. Art Baxter’s victory in the triple jump in 1967 was the last gold medal for UNM. (The UNM men’s two-mile relay team claimed the last indoor national title for the Lobos, winning the event at the 1983 championships.)
New Mexico earned its best national finish in 1965 under head coach Hugh Hackett. Clarence Robinson swept the long and triple jump titles as the Lobos finished fifth with 25 points, just half a point out of fourth and seven points shy of the team title. New Mexico was also tied for fifth in 1967 with a score of 24 points. The UNM women have scored four times at the NCAA Championships (women competed under the AIAW organization until 1982), with a high finish of 33rd (5 points) in 1996.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW This year's NCAA meet will feature an expanded field of 1,100 student-athletes - the result of a new system of regional qualifying meets - and making this year's event the largest NCAA Championship in history. The larger NCAA field means there will be non-stop competition for four days in Sacramento. The bulk of the finals will be held in the late afternoon and evening, accommodating both athletes and spectators.
Since the NCAA made track and field its first national championship event in 1921, the list of individual champions reads like a who's who of track legends: Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner, Al Oerter, Florence Griffith, Michael Johnson, Jim Ryun, Renaldo Nehemiah, Gail Devers and Tommie Smith, to name just a few world record-setters and Olympic champions.
The NCAA track and field championships return to Northern California for the first time since 1968. From 1935-68, the NCAA meet visited Northern California on nine different occasions. The 1968 NCAA Championships, held at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley, crowned three winners who later that year won Olympic gold medals in Mexico City - Lee Evans of San Jose State in the 400 meters; Dave Hemery of Boston University in the 400 hurdles; and Dick Fosbury of Oregon State in the high jump. A fourth Mexico City winner, USC pole vaulter Bob Seagren, finished second in Berkeley.
The 2000 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Sacramento attracted a record-setting 187,104 spectators over eight days of competition, and the sellout crowds were rewarded with one world record and two U.S. marks. The 2004 U.S. Olympic Track Trials were awarded to Sacramento, making California's capital just the second city to host successive Olympic Trials.
LSU's men and South Carolina's women are the defending NCAA team champions, and both teams figure to be make strong stands in Sacramento. Another team contender is Stanford, the 2000 NCAA men's champion. The Cardinal has an outstanding strong group of middle- and long-distance runners, led by defending NCAA outdoor champions Don Sage (1,500 meters) and Lauren Fleshman (5,000 meters). At last year's NCAA Championships in Baton Rouge, La., the men's and women's team titles weren't decided until the last event on the final day, the 1,600-meter relay.
Two of the top athletes to watch in Sacramento are South Carolina sophomore Lashinda Demus and Florida junior Rickey Harris. In Baton Rouge, Demus won the women's 400 hurdles in the world junior record time of 54.85 seconds. Demus also finished third in the 400-meter dash and ran a leg on South Carolina's winning 1,600 relay team.
Harris won the men's 400 hurdles in 48.16. That time made him the third-fastest hurdler in collegiate history. Harris also finished third in the flat 400.
KEREN SARI-BENTZUR Heptathlon • 5-10 • Sr-2L Omer, Israel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
NEW MEXICO: Two-time Israeli national long jump champion and 10-time all-Mountain West Conference honoree who could contend for All-America honors in the heptathlon...a phenomenal athlete who owns UNM indoor records in the pentathlon and long jump...two-time academic all-MWC honoree and a 2003 Verizon Academic All-District VI selection who is pursuing her graduate degree this year...2003: (outdoor) NCAA qualifier for the second-straight year...season-best heptathlon score of 5,236 at Mt. SAC Relays...owns team’s top marks in the 100m hurdles (14.78), long jump (20-01.00) and triple jump (38-06.75)...nine top-five finishes on the season, including a second place performance in the long jump (19-01.50), which earned all-conference honors at the MWC Championships...ranked among the teams top-five in seven events...pair of victories on the season...has competed in 34 events entering the NCAA Championships...(indoor) Tremendous indoor seeason, capped by one of the greatest conference championship performances in school history...was the MWC High Point award winner, leading the way with 30 points in the pentathlon, long jump, triple jump and high jump...first UNM woman to win two events in one year at an indoor conference meet, taking the pentathlon and long jump...bested her own school record with a score of 3,845 in the pentathlon...also earned all-MWC honors in the triple jump, finishing third with a season-best leap of 38-07.00...was fifth in the high jump...owned team-best marks in five events: 60m hurdles (9.00), high jump (5-07.25), long jump (19-04.00), triple jump and pentathlon...four victories on the season...2002: (outdoor) Selected to compete in the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships and just missed a spot on the All-America team with her ninth place finish (5,285 pts.) despite suffering a severe ankle strain the previous week...was just 36 points out of 8th place and 52 points out of 6th...ended the regular season ranked 10th in the nation in the two-day event...career performance at the Mt. SAC Relays, finishing fifth in the heptathlon with an NCAA provisional qualifying and personal-best score of 5,371...total was just 129 points off the automatic qualifying standard and 48 points shy of the 12-year-old UNM record...notched season-bests in the long jump (20-02.25), 100m hurdles (14.32), high jump (5-07.00) and 200m (25.53) at Mt. SAC...rallied on the final day to finish third in the heptathlon at the MWC Championships...picked up all-MWC honors for the second time at the meet with a runner-up performance (19-11.50) in the long jump...competed in a remarkable 36 events, was ranked among the UNM top-five in seven different events and led the squad in the 100m hurdles (8th MWC), long jump (2nd MWC) and heptathlon (2nd MWC)...academic all-MWC honoree...(indoor) Two-time all-MWC honoree in the pentathlon and long jump...finished third in both events at the Indoor Championships and was also fifth in the triple jump for a total of 16 points on the weekend...won the pentathlon at the Air Force Invitational and captured the long jump at NAU...pushed her indoor pentathlon record up to 3,727 points...2001:(outdoor) Was Trackwire.com’s preseason selection for Top International Newcomer in the long jump...fine outdoor season despite being hampered with a strained hamstring at the MWC Championships...finished third in the long jump at the Michael Johnson Invitational, matching her personal-best mark of 20-03.00, which was just 1.25 inches shy of a provisional NCAA qualifying mark...won the long jump at the Don Kirby Invitational and was second in the 100m hurdles...fourth in the long jump at the Willie Williams Classic and UT-Arlington Open...10th in the heptathlon at the Texas Relays with 5,128 points, just 47 off a provisional qualifying score...owned UNM’s top marks in the long jump (20-03.00), high jump (5-05.75), javelin (99-08.00) and heptathlon (5,128 pts.)...academic all-MWC honoree...(indoor) Tremendous indoor season-debut, finished among the top three in seven of eight competitions...earned all-MWC honors in both the long jump and pentathlon...finished second in the pentathlon, bettering her own school record with a score of 3,694, and was the runner-up in the long jump as well at the MWC Championships...also the MWC’s fifth-ranked triple jumper...finished second in the long jump at the Flagstaff Invitational with record-setting leap of 19-11.00...opened the season by winning the long jump and taking second in the pentathlon with a school record 3,671 points at the Air Force Invitational...third in the 60m hurdles at the J.D. Martin Invitational...HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM: Recorded 2000 season-bests of 20-03.00 in the long jump, 5-08.25 in the high jump and 5,025 points in the heptathlon at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Rehovot, Israel...HIGH SCHOOL: Israeli high schools long jump champion at Eshel Hanassi high school under the tutelage of coach David Kushnir...personal-bests of 19-09.50 in the long jump, 5-06.00 in the high jump and 4,785 points in the heptathlon...graduated in 1995...PERSONAL: Keren Sari-Bentzur was born on Dec. 5, 1977 in Beer-Sheva, Israel...daughter of Izak and Dina Sari...has two siblings, Rotem (23) and Reem (31)...married Rotem Bentzur on Aug. 16, 2001...earned her degree in Nutrition and is now enrolled in graduate school.
2003 OUTDOOR SEASON RESULTS
|Heptathlon|Don Kirby Invitational|5,170 pts.|1st| |100m Hurdles|Don Kirby Invitational (heptathlon)|14.65*|1st| |High Jump|Don Kirby Invitational (heptathlon)|5-06.50|1st| |Shot Put|Don Kirby Invitational (heptathlon)|39-02.25|1st| |200m|Don Kirby Invitational (heptathlon)|26.06*|1st| |Long Jump|Don Kirby Invitational (heptathlon)|18-08.75|1st| |Javelin|Don Kirby Invitational (heptathlon)|95-02.00|5th| |800m|Don Kirby Invitational (heptathlon)|2:24.86|2nd| |200m|UTEP Springtime Invitational|25.69*|5th| |100m Hurdles|UTEP Springtime Invitational|14.58*|2nd| |Javelin|UTEP Springtime Invitational|101-11.00|3rd| |Long Jump|Texas Relays (Section B)|FOUL|--| |Heptathlon|Mt. SAC Relays|5,236 pts.|6th| |100m Hurdles|Mt. SAC Relays (heptathlon)|14.68|9th| |High Jump|Mt. SAC Relays (heptathlon)|5-06.50|T4th| |Shot Put|Mt. SAC Relays (heptathlon)|38-10.25|6th| |200m|Mt. SAC Relays (heptathlon)|25.78|7th| |Long Jump|Mt. SAC Relays (heptathlon)|19-02.75|3rd| |Javelin|Mt. SAC Relays (heptathlon)|96-07.00|9th| |800m|Mt. SAC Relays (heptathlon)|2:24.09|8th| |Long Jump|Mt. SAC Relays (open)|18-10.00|T9th| |Javelin|Jack Christiansen Invitational|104-08.0010th| |Long Jump|Jack Christiansen Invitational|19-03.50|2nd| |200m|UTEP Twilight|25.50*|7th| |Long Jump|UTEP Twilight|20-01.00 (wind - 6.4)|1st| |Javelin|UTEP Twilight|99-00.00|5th| |Heptathlon|MWC Championships|5,170 pts.|4th| |100m Hurdles|MWC Championships (heptathlon)|14.78*|3rd| |High Jump|MWC Championships (heptathlon)|5-04.50|T2nd| |Shot Put|MWC Championships (heptathlon)|37-10.00|3rd| |200m|MWC Championships (heptathlon)|25.40*|4th| |Long Jump|MWC Championships (heptathlon)|19-06.25 (wind - 8.2)|2nd| |Javelin|MWC Championships (heptathlon)|101-02.00|5th| |800m|MWC Championships (heptathlon)|2:29.67|6th| |Long Jump|MWC Championships|19-01.50|2nd| |High Jump|MWC Championships|5-05.00|5th| |Triple Jump|MWC Championships|38-06.75|7th|
MATT GONZALES 10,000 meters • 5-5 • So-1L Santa Fe, N.M. (New Mexico Highlands)
NEW MEXICO: Two-time cross country All-America and four-time all-MWC honoree who is making his NCAA track debut after representing New Mexico at the last two NCAA Cross Country Championship meets...established himself as one of the most dominating distance runners to come through UNM in over a decade, bursting onto the national stage this spring...automatic NCAA Championship qualifier in both the 1,500 and 10,000...currently ranked fourth in the NCAA in the 10,000 and could be surprise title contender in the event...2003: (outdoor) Owned the fastest times in the MWC in both the 5,000 and 10,000, and was No. 2 in the 1,500...was a regional qualifier in both the 1,500 and 5,000, where he was ranked fourth in the division...clocked a career-best and MWC record-setting 10K time of 28:38.64 in his season-opener at Stanford, earning him MWC Athlete of the Week honors...time was 22 seconds below the NCAA automatic qualifying mark and nearly 2 seconds below the automatic standard for the USA national meet...swept the 1,500 in stunning fashion at the NCAA Midwest Regionals...clocked the top preliminary time of 3:47.75 before recording the fastest regional championship time in the country, crossing the line in 3:42.83...time was just 0.29 seconds off the UNM record...missed the UNM school record by nine seconds with career-best 5K time of 13:48.63 at Mt. SAC Relays...six top-three finishes on the season, including all-MWC honors as the runner-up in the 5,000 at the conference meet and 1,500 victories at LSU and the Midwest Regionals...(indoor) All-MWC honoree in the 3,000 meters...finished third with a time of 8:21.37, just two seconds out of first place...owned the team’s fastest 3K time of the year, clocking a personal-best 8:18.35 en route to a victory at the Husker Invite...won two 3K races and finished second once...was never lower than third in four meets...2002: (cross country) Led UNM in the Pre-National Invitational (19th) and NCAA Mountain Region Championship (8th)...notched five top-10 finishes and owned three of the Lobos’ top-10 8K times...personal-best 8K time of 23:55 was the second-fastest on the team and No. 3 in the MWC this fall...painful bout of Achilles tendonitis limited him over the last month of the season...was also tripped up early in the NCAA Championship race, causing him to fall to 156th...(outdoor) Came on at midseason, establishing himself as one of the top 5,000m runner in the MWC...recorded the league’s fastest time (14:08.55) in his fourth place finish at the Mt. SAC Relays...just missed the NCAA provisional qualifying time by a couple seconds...finished fourth at the MWC Championships in his only 10,000m competition of the season...finished second in the 1,500 at the Modrall Sperling Lobo Open...(indoor) Member of the Lobos’ school record-setting indoor distance medley relay team...won the mile at the Wolfpack Invitational in a season-best time of 4:17.13...2001:(cross country) Capped a stellar UNM debut by earning Division I All-American honors with his 30th-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships...became the first Lobo cross country All-American since Ibrahim Kivina in 1982 and led all MWC runners at the national meet...automatically qualified for national championship after finishing eighth at the NCAA Mountain Regionals...garnered first-team all-MWC honors as the runner-up at the conference championships...recorded the team’s fastest 8K time and notched five top-10 finishes...named MWC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week after winning the ASU Invitational on Oct. 5...NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS: Competed in cross country for head coach Bob Deries...earned Division II All-American honors with his 37th-place finish at the NCAA championships...HIGH SCHOOL: Lettered in track and cross country at Santa Fe (N.M.) High School under head coach Peter Grahm...2000 Athlete of the Year at SFHS...cross country and track MVP...PERSONAL: Matthew Martin Gonzales was born on Oct. 19, 1981 in Santa Fe (N.M.)...son of Ernest and Rita Gonzales...has two brothers, Bryan (32) and Stephen (26)...greatest inspiration is Steve Prefontaine...majoring in Physical Education.
2003 OUTDOOR SEASON RESULTS
|10,000m|Stanford Invitational (top section)|28:38.64#|3rd| |1,500m|LSU Alumni Gold|3:48.63%|1st| |5,000m|Mt. SAC Relays (invitational)|13:48.35%|22nd| |800m|UTEP Twilight|1:57.57|2nd| |1,500m|UTEP Twilight|3:59.61*|3rd| |5,000m|MWC Championships| 14:21.90*%|2nd| |1,500m|Midwest Regional Championships (prelims)|3:47.75|1st| |1,500m |Midwest Regional Championships (finals)|3:42.83|1st#|
Key: * altitude adjusted time, % NCAA regional qualifying mark, NCAA provisional qualifying mark, # NCAA automatic qualifying mark/finish, all-MWC honors