The University of New Mexico’s men’s cross country team took the Mountain West Championship title on Oct. 27 while in Boise. The women’s team took fourth in the MW Championship race.
Habtom Samuel along with Evans Kiplagat and Lukas Kiprop all finished in 1-2-3 order crossing the line within 30 seconds of each other.
This is the first time that the men’s team has won the conference title since 2014.
The men’s team beat out the Air Force Academy by two points, 34-36 “We made it tough – it was a hard fought battle over a really really good Air Force team,” Darren Gauson said – UNM’s head coach.
Gauson was named MW men’s coach of the year following the performance at the MW Championships – leading UNM to a No. 3 ranking in the Mountain Region, according to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Samuel finished with a time of 22:57.7 in the men’s 8K. He broke a MW record for going below 23 minutes at the MW Championship men’s race. He is also the first UNM men’s individual champion since Luke Caldwell in 2012.
“Habtom is one of the best athletes in the country. We’ll expect to see him right up there in three weeks at the national championship. He is just an amazing athlete,” Gauson said.
Samuel is still ranked at No.1 in the nation according to FloTrack – beating other runners like Nico Young from Northern Arizona University and Denis Kipngetich from Oklahoma State University.
The women’s side finished fourth overall with runner Nicola Jansen taking second individually. They finished with 111 points to beat out MW rivals Utah State and Wyoming.
“Our women were really courageous with that fourth place finish. Nicola was outstanding (while) finishing runner-up,” Gauson said.
Jansen finished with an individual time of 19:54.1 in the women’s 6K race. There was a 5.6 second gap between Jansen and first overall runner Sarah Carter from Colorado State.
New Mexico had multiple runners receive All-Mountain West Cross Country Team honors. Jansen, Kiplagat, Kiprop and Samuel were named to the All-MW First Team, while UNM runners Klara Dess and Jonathan Carmin were named to the Second Team.
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The Lobos will run in Lubbock, Texas for the Mountain Region Championships. The race will begin on Friday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. for the women’s race and 11 a.m. for the men’s.
Ryan Grossetete is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached with firstname.lastname@example.org