Banged-Up Gonzales Finishes 156th At NCAA Cross Country Championships
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- After turning in a pair of courageous performances to help the University of New Mexico men’s cross country team earn its best Mountain West Conference (3rd) and Mountain Region (7th) finishes in a decade, junior Matt Gonzales came up short at the NCAA Cross Country Championship meet earlier today at the LaVern Gibson Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute. Still nursing a painful case of Achilles tendinitis, which has hampered him over the past month, Gonzales, New Mexico’s lone representative at the meet, finished 156th out of 251 runners.
A 2001 All-American last fall, Gonzales dropped 126 spots from a year ago, when he placed 30th. He finished the 10,000-meter course in a time of 31:36.7, a minute slower than his 10K time on Nov. 16 at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships in Albuquerque, and 1:32.7 off his time at the 2001 NCAA Championship meet.
Colorado senior Jorge Torres, who captured the Mountain Region championship on Nov. 16 in Albuquerque, earned his first national title after placing second last year and third in 2000. Torres bested the field with a winning time of 29:04.7. Stanford’s top-ranked men dethroned Torres’ Buffaloes for the team title, cruising to a victory over runner-up Wisconsin, 47-107. On the women’s side, top-ranked BYU captured its second-straight national championship, holding off Stanford 85-113. North Carolina State junior Shalane Flanagan was the individual winner, completing the 6,000-meter course in a time of 19:36.0.
Despite Monday’s disappointing finish, the future remains bright for Gonzales and his UNM teammates after a highly-successful 2002 campaign. New Mexico’s men showed tremendous promise when healthy and could make a big splash on the national stage next fall. With no seniors on either the men’s or women’s teams, head coach Matt Henry has the Lobos primed for even greater accomplishments in 2003.
**Complete results from the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships can be obtained on the cross country page of the www.ncaasports.com website.