In track and field, a sport of steady progression, early-season meets are all about shaking off the rust that develops during the holiday break. Two weeks into the 2013 indoor campaign, New Mexico’s athletes are getting into the swing of things.
At the Cherry & Silver Invitational held Friday and Saturday at the Albuquerque Civic Center, UNM posted solid marks in a number of events, head coach Joe Franklin said. Being able to have a home meet so soon in a new campaign helps as well, he added.
“It’s not traveling,” he said. “At these home meets, you’re kind of just blowing out the cobwebs from Christmas break. Some of the kids improved dramatically from last weekend, and I think we’ll continue to see those big jumps.”
Over the two-day meet, eight athletes from UNM placed among the top three in their respective events.
Senior Amber Menke had the one of the best finishes of any Lobo, taking second in the pole vault with a 12-foot, 11 1/2-inch leap.
According to the Athletics media relations, Menke has three of the school’s top 10 vaulting marks, including a tie for seventh-best.
Despite her finish, she was a half-inch short of her goal height of 13 feet.
BYU’s Rachel Fisher won the event with a 13-foot, 5 1/2-inch mark.
“I felt like I was better than last week” at the season-opening Lumberjack Team Challenge, Menke said. “My run was better. I just wanted to get my step out and I was hoping to jump 13 (feet). Not quite there, but close.”
Another UNM female athlete, Shirley Pitts, was second in the 600 meter run after clocking a time of 1:35.32. She was three seconds behind winner Alima Kamara of California.
On the men’s side, the Lobos had five top-three finishes. Senior De’Vron Walker ran a third-place time of 8.27 seconds in the 60-meters. After having the second-fastest preliminary time at 8.28 seconds, Walker finished the finals behind California’s Ray Stewart (7.97) and Maurice Valentine (8.27).
Senior Sam Evans placed third in the 800 meter run with 1:52.70, while junior Gabe Aragon ran 4:14.71 to take third in the mile.
Aragon finished ahead of fellow junior John Cordova’s time of 4:15.13.
In the long jump, senior Kendall Spencer leaped 23-10 for a bronze medal. Teammates senior Robert Warensjo and junior Logan Pflibsen had matching 16-2 3/4 marks in the pole vault, but Warensjo took third over Pflibsen based on fewer attempts at that height. Junior Charles Lewis also placed third in the 400 hurdles in 54.37.
At the conclusion of the meet, Franklin said the immediate focus of the team is staying healthy, especially with the flu-like symptoms some players are experiencing. If an athlete gets sick for 10 days or more, he said, that athlete will miss considerable practice time over the next several weeks.
“That’s the biggest challenge: making sure you do those little things,” Franklin said. “You’re going to get better; that’s the nature of our sport. As long as you’re doing all the little things right and are consistent, you’re going to get better.”