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New Mexico runs laps over the Mountain West Cross Country awards

University of New Mexico Cross Country runners Nicola Jansen and Habtom Samuel are both named Mountain West Athlete of the Week on Tuesday, Sept. 26 after their performance at the Roy Griak Invitational. 

Jansen earned the title of Women’s Athlete of the Week and Samuel received the honor of Men’s Athlete of the Week, NCAA Runner of the Week and Freshman of the Week.

This is the first time that UNM athletes have won both the MW Men’s and Women’s Athlete of the Week award since 2014.

Samuel — who is making his UNM and NCAA debut — finished first in the Men’s 8K race by 24 seconds helping the men’s team finish third. Samuel held a commanding lead, staying in first place for the last three kilometers.

“Outstanding debut from Habtom (Samuel),” said UNM Head Coach Darren Gauson. In his first collegiate race, Samuel ran a time of 23:36.4 — the fastest at Roy Griak since 2011.

Jansen also made her UNM debut and is a transfer from Bradley University. She finished second in the Women’s 6K. The women’s team finished in sixth place and Jansen finished with a time of 20:30.6. 

Both runners are international student athletes. Samuel is from Keren, Eritrea and Jansen are from Pretoria, South Africa. 

“Nicola (Jansen) just came off World University Games for South Africa, so she’ll come in and be an immediate impact,” said Gauson.

Samuel led the pack but he was swiftly followed by two fellow freshmen — Lukas Kiprop who finished third with a time of 24:02.5 and Evans Kiplagat who finished fifth with a time of 24:14.1.

Jansen finished second at the Griak Invitational, three seconds behind first place runner Greta Karinauskaite of Cal Baptist University. Jansen finished 19 seconds ahead of the next finisher after her.

Another top 10 Lobo finisher was fellow Bradley University transfer, Peyton Schieppe. She finished eighth place in the 6K with a time of 21:13.4

Thanks to this performance, both the women’s and men’s teams are now ranked sixth in the Mountain Region. The men’s team has now beat MW rivals Colorado State, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah State.

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Samuel and Jansen are both nationally ranked top 10 individuals for men’s and women’s cross country. Samuel is currently ranked number one and Jansen comes in at number eight, according to Flotrack’s individual rankings.

The Lobos will race again on Friday, Oct. 13 in Madison, Wis. at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational. 

Ryan Grossetete is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached with

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