The University of New Mexico track and field teams competed in the Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships Feb. 24-26 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. This competition gave the Lobos the chance to show off their best and jockey for qualifying positions for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

It’s no secret that the best of the Lobos’ track and field are in the women’s distance program, and they got the chance to prove it again first thing Thursday, Feb. 24 in the distance medley relay, though there was some drama on the way.

On the first 1200-meter leg of the relay, the lap counter jumped erroneously from three laps to one. UNM runner Elise Thorner continued for the correct number of laps, though other teams didn’t realize in time, meaning that Thorner ran the correct 1200 m while other teams only ran 1000 m, making the typically dominant UNM DMR team playing catch-up.



The slip-up ultimately didn’t matter for the 4000 m distance medley relay result. Thorner, Tianna Holmes, Adva Cohen and Abbe Goldstein won with a 11 minute, 10.33 second time ⁠— over a half a minute faster than second place Colorado State.

Friday, Feb. 25 was mostly full of preliminary rounds, though women’s distance once again got a chance to shine in the 5000 m run where three Lobos — Amelia Mazza-Downie, Gracelyn Larkin and Aliandrea Upshaw — made up the top three, respectively.

Thorner won the women’s mile run with a time of 4:46.2 on Saturday, Feb. 26, just ahead of Colorado State’s Megan Mooney at 4:46.66 and Anna Petr at 4:46.75. The win was Thorner’s first individual Mountain West conference championship win. Thorner led the whole race and was able to hold off the two Rams at the end, though she said she prefers to run as a part of the pack and then try to out-sprint the leader.

“We were going for a (new record) time today,” Thorner said. “It didn’t quite pull off, but I’m so happy with how the meet’s gone. I’ve raced every day since Thursday so I had to seriously dig in that last 200 (meters) because I knew they were coming. I’m so glad I managed to hold them off.”

Matthew Larkin also won his first conference championship in the men’s 800 m on Saturday with a personal record 1:49.14. Matthew Larkin is the younger brother of Gracelyn Larkin and is classified as a freshman. He said he hopes to channel his success in indoors to the upcoming outdoor season.

“I’ve always found I’m the type to speed up as I keep going and race more, so I’m hoping I can just keep the train rolling and get into outdoors and be one of the top competitors in the NCAA,” Matthew Larkin said.

Matthew Larkin said he liked the atmosphere at the championships and was appreciative of the camaraderie found there among competitors and spectators, even those from different schools.

“That’s so nice,” Matthew Larkin said. “I mean, it’s one thing to have school spirit but just to have spirit for the sport, and support everybody, that’s crazy. I’m really thankful for that.”

The Lobos women then went on to dominate the 3000 m run on Saturday. Gracelyn Larkin, Goldstein, Mazza-Downie and Upshaw made up the first four finishers, respectively, and Emma Heckel and Cohen were also in the top 10.

Other top finishers at the championships included Camillo Dunninger, who won the men’s heptathlon on Thursday, Jevon O’Bryant, who finished second in the men's 400 m dash on Saturday and Aidan Quinn, who finished second in men's triple jump on Saturday and fourth in
men's long jump on Friday.

Ultimately, the UNM women finished third out of 11 as a team and the men finished sixth out of seven. Colorado State and Air Force took the team championships in women’s and men’s, respectively. Lobos who have qualified will next compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama from March 11-12.

Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy