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UNM steps up at its only home track meet

Lobo men, women combine for nine event wins

The UNM track and field teams had a good showing in its first and only home meet of the 2001 season by winning nine total events - five by the men and four by the women.

Twelve collegiate and four club teams competed, including Colorado State University, which placed 20th in the nation during the recent indoor championships, and NCAA Division-II powerhouse Adams State College.

UNM head coach Matt Henry, coaching in his first home meet, said he was pleased with his team's performance.

"We had a great meet," Henry said following the meet. "I'm really proud of what we did today."

UNM juniors Keren Sari and Monique Harris set the early pace for UNM in the women's long jump. Sari finished in first place with a leap of 19 feet, 2 inches and Harris flew 18-5 to finish in third - 1/ 4 of an inch out of second.

Surprisingly, Sari appeared more pleased with her 10th-place finish in the 200-meter run because she set a personal record in that event.

Meanwhile Harris, the defending Mountain West Conference triple jump champion, finished second in the triple with a distance of 38-10 1/ 4. Sherley Anku of New Mexico State University won the triple jump with a combined leap of 40-9 1/2. Harris said she couldn't find her take-off mark at the meet, possibly due to the swirling winds on the field.

UNM senior Lisa Coleman notched the second victory of the day for the Lobos by capturing the 100-meter hurdles in a time of 14.80 seconds. Sari finished a close second at 14.90.

Sophomore Arline Smith continued the Lobos' winning ways in the 200-meters finishing 0.01 seconds ahead of NMSU's LaToya Johnson with a time of 24.26.

The UNM women's 4x400-meter relay team finished first with a time of 3:53.85 - almost six seconds faster than second place Adams State.

Other top women finishers included junior Carolina Geisseler who finished third in the pole vault; sophomore Dayna McMillen, who finished third in the 100-meters; and the 4x100-relay team, which finished second.

On the men's side, sophomore Nick Lott led a pack of Lobos in the 400-meter dash, winning with a time of 48.69. Following Lott were juniors Mike Peregrino and Dan Taradash and senior Voight Thornton who finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

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Freshman Mark Johnson won his first event as a Lobo, capturing the men's triple jump with a combined distance of 47 feet, 8 inches.

UNM sophomore Craig Keish topped all the competitors in the javelin with a toss of 186-0, four inches beyond second place Doug Crumb from CSU. Junior Justin Massey also had a good day in winning his first outdoor event of the season - the 400-meter hurdles in 53.03.

Senior Larry Davis showed off his sprinting speed by finishing second in both the 100- and 200-meters. At the other end of the distance spectrum, freshman Ben Ortega finished second in the 5,000-meter event, behind unattached runner Crisiof Baldyga, with a time of 15 minutes, 13.94 seconds.

UNM capped off the meet with a victory in the men's 4x400-meter relay, finishing more than 4 seconds ahead of second place Oral Roberts University.

The visiting English Royal Air Force was part of the reason for the event's jovial atmosphere. The team, composed of 35 athletes ranging in age from 17 to 42 that are also members of England's Air Force, competed in the meet as part of a two-week high-altitude and warm weather training camp. Squadron Leader Major Wayne Loxton, presented UNM head coach Matt Henry with a statuette of a plane commemorating the visit, while UNM and Royal Air Force athletes mugged together for photos.

"We've been treated really well," Loxton said of his team's experience at the meet.

Praise abounded from the visiting coaches regarding the staging of the meet.

"There were plenty of officials and they did a good job of running the meet," NMSU assistant coach Scott Fister said. "It's a tribute to the Henrys."

Oral Roberts head coach Joe Dial echoed the sentiments.

"It was a great meet, put on well and we really enjoyed it," said Dial. In 1987, Dial set what was then the U.S. record in the pole vault at 19-6 while competing as an unattached athlete at UNM.

Henry said he hopes to hold two or three home meets per season in the future. Henry also said he used the meet as a recruiting tool by inviting local high school coaches to attend.

The UNM track and field program returns to action this Saturday, March 31, in El Paso, Texas, at the University of Texas at El Paso Springtime Invitational.

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