The UNM track and field team returns to the Albuquerque Convention Center this weekend. This time, they’re bringing the distance runners.
The Lobos host the New Mexico Invitational today and tomorrow, the second of a three-meet homestand for the team. This meet marks the first of the indoor season during which the majority of the Lobo distance runners will race.
“The mile is going to be a good race,” UNM head coach Joe Franklin said. “Northern Arizona and Adams State are coming down to race our guys. Hopefully there will be a few NCAA qualifiers from this race.”
The Lobos have seniors Sean Stam and Logan Rosenberg entered in the fast heat of the men’s mile. Joining the seniors in the heat are juniors Luke Caldwell, Adam Bitchell, and Gabe Aragon along with sophomore Vince Montoya.
Senior Floyd Ross will be making his season debut in the men’s triple jump as well. Last year, Ross earned All-American honors in both indoors and outdoors in the triple jump.
“I feel very confident,” Ross said. “My training has been going well. I plan on having fun and being relaxed.”
Lobo junior Django Lovett is entered in the men’s high jump. This will be Lovett’s season debut after missing last week’s meet with the flu.
After competing in the 600-meter run last weekend, senior Shirley Pitts will join freshman standout Zoe Howell in the women’s 4×400-meter relay. Last year, the Lobo women set a school record in the event.
“Our freshmen are pretty good,” Pitts said. “They’ve been surprising me lately. I think we have a chance to break the school record (this season).”
Freshmen Ridge Jones and Carlos Wiggins are both entered in the 60 meter dash. The two dual-sport sprinters (both also play football for UNM) will use this meet as a way to prepare for faster competition down the road.
“They’ve done a great job so far, and we’ve had great cooperation with the football staff,” Franklin said. “They’re only going to run one race this weekend to try and gear them up for the next couple of weeks. I expect them to get better each week.”
One name that stands out among the athletes entered in the New Mexico Invitational is Jeremy Wariner. The sprinter, who has three Olympic gold medals (between Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008) and five world championship golds in his career, will compete in the men’s 200-meter dash. Wariner competed in the same event at last weekend’s Cherry & Silver classic, winning the event with a time of 20.99.
Joining the squad at the meet are former Lobos Jarrin Solomon, who is slated to compete in the men’s 400-meter dash, Ruth Senior and Laura Bowerman. Solomon, a member of Trinidad and Tobago’s 4×400-meter relay that won bronze at the London Olympics last summer, holds the UNM record in the indoor 400 and 600. Senior, who is entered in the women’s 800-meter run and the mile run, holds the school records for the indoor 3,000-meter run and the outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase. Bowerman, a former all-conference runner for the Lobos, will be joining Senior in the women’s 800-meter run.
The Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. is sending athletes to join the collegians at this meet. Paralympian Jeff Skiba, who’s won three Paralympic golds, will compete against Lovett in the men’s high jump. Fellow Paralympian Markeith Price is entered in the men’s long jump. Ronald Taylor and Tyron Stewart will join Price in the men’s long jump. April Sinkler is entered in the women’s long jump and triple jump. Troy Doris rounds out the training center’s contingent, competing in the men’s triple jump.