The University of New Mexico track and field team made the trip to Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon to compete in the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships earlier this month.
UNM track and field has made it a habit to send competitors to the championships and have solid showings — and that trend continued as four student-athletes ran their way to All-American performances.
Junior runner Josh Kerr was already familiar with competing on the national stage. He won an individual national championship in the men's 1500-meter run last year and was probably viewed as the favorite to defend his crown this time around.
Kerr set an NCAA record in the event earlier in this season after he ran a time of 3:35.01 at the Bryan Clay Invitational in April, narrowly eclipsing the old record of 3:35.30 set by Sydney Maree at the 1981 NCAA Championships. The UNM product actually owns two of the top-10 NCAA marks of all-time in the 1,500-meter, running a 3:35.99 in 2017 — also at Bryan Clay.
But Kerr was unable to repeat as champion and was upset in the finals as his late kick fell just short in a tightly contested race — the top eight runners all finished within one second of each other. Wisconsin's Oliver Hoare won the title with a time of 3:44.77, while Kerr finished third with a time of 3:45.02.
"It was very tactical and very physical," Kerr said in a release. "There was a tight pack all the way through. There was a lot of clipping and jumping around. It was a tough race to be in."
Kerr's run tallied six points for New Mexico as the Lobos finished 43rd in the overall men's standings with that same total. Georgia racked up 52 total points to garner its first NCAA Outdoor Championship.
On the women's side, a trio of Lobos turned in All-American performances as well.
UNM sophomore Charlotte Prouse picked up a second-place in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, finishing in 9:45.45. She was outpaced by fellow sophomore Allie Ostrander of Boise State, who got the individual win.
Prouse's time ranked third all-time in UNM's history and she already owns six of the top-10 school performances, a release said.
Senior runner Alice Wright placed fourth in the women's 10,000-meter run, clocking a time of 32:17.92.
The most recent All-American accolade was her fourth straight in the women's 10,000-meter event, making her the first female athlete to accomplish the feat.
Wright finished her career with a total of eight All-American honors — earning four in both cross country and track and field.
Ednah Kurgat rounded things out with a sixth-place finish in the women's 5,000-meter event with a time of 15:46.31, edging out several competitors in a group that was bunched together. That pack included her teammate, Weini Kelati, whose time of 15:46.57 was good for ninth place.
The UNM women garnered a total of 16 points, which resulted in a 17th place finish overall. Just two points separated the top three schools, as USC picked up 53 team points to lay claim to the national title.
Although the track and field season was over on June 9, perhaps the biggest news came after its conclusion.
Kerr has apparently signed with the Total Sports US agency, turning professional and putting an end to his collegiate career and time as a Lobo.
Total Sports US tweeted the announcement on June 16, welcoming Kerr into the fold and recognizing him for setting the NCAA record at the Bryan Clay Invitational.
Kerr is still in the hunt for the Bowerman, track and field's highest individual honor that is awarded to the top male and female athletes in the nation, as he is one of 10 semifinalists to qualify.
Robert Maler is the sport’s editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball and football and contributes content for various other sports as well. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.