Short-Handed Lobo Men 17th At Pre-Nationals
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The 28th-ranked University of New Mexico men's cross country team finished 17th out of 35 teams in the men's blue race at the Asics/Pacesetter Pre-National Invitational today. Junior Matthew Gonzales finished 19th to lead an injury-riddled Lobo squad. New Mexico competed without three of its top-five athletes: junior Ben Ortega, sophomore Cameron Clarke and freshman Jeremy Johnson. Meanwhile, the UNM women finished 13th out of 29 squads in the women's open race.
A 2001 All-American, Gonzales ran with the top-20 throughout the 8K competition, finishing with a final time of 24:23.5. With Ortega home in Albuquerque and Clarke and Johnson unable to complete the course, junior Sean Flaherty clocked the Lobos' 10th-fastest 8,000-meter time of the year and was the second UNM finisher (48th overall) in a time of 24:55. Fellow junior Nick Martinez was the third Lobo finisher (120th) with a final time of 25:33.5. Sophomore Chad Dawson (127th - 25:38) and freshman Brandon Vigil (150th - 25:51.3) rounded out New Mexico's five finishing runners.
"I'm pleased with how our guys performed under very difficult circumstances," said head coach Matt Henry. "Matt ran well, though he's not satisfied with where he finished. Chad Dawson and Brandon Vigil also did some nice things when they were forced to be our fourth and fifth scoring runners. We decided to reevaluate Ben, so he didn't even make the trip. Cameron rolled his ankle twice early in the race and we also pulled Jeremy off the course after we decided he was just hurting too much to finish."
Unfortunately, the UNM women have also been forced to overcome a series injuries this season, particularly the loss of sophomore sensation Jacquelyne Gallegos, who fractured her back and pelvis in a auto accident a month ago. Junior Sarah Gonzales, who mised the first two meets of the year with injuries of her own, continued her strong running at the Pre-Nationals. Gonzales clocked the second-fastest 6,000-meter time of the year for the Lobos, finishing 61st in a time of 22:43.6. Freshman Karina Hill-Hurtado was second on the team for the first time this season, placing 106th overall (23:12.7). Freshman Janice Tosa pushed through her own nagging injuries to to finish 129th (23:27.3), followed by fellow freshman Timmie Murphy (133rd - 23:28.7) and sophomore Racquel Ricci (165th - 23:47.6).
New Mexico will have two weeks to rest and heal before returning to action on Friday, Nov. 1 for the Mountain West Conference Championships in Provo, Utah. The UNM men were picked third in the MWC preseason poll, while the women were slated to finish 5th. Both squads were fifth at the 2001 championships in Albquerque.
Complete results are available at: