New Mexico's Frerichs Sets NCAA Record, Wins NCAA Steeple Title

Release courtesy of New Mexico Athletics.

EUGENE, Ore. — Although it didn't rain Saturday at Hayward Field, the Lobo women should have brought an umbrella. 

Records were falling everywhere.

Courtney Frerichs, a senior for the University of New Mexico track & field team, broke the NCAA record in the 3000-meter steeplechase on Saturday as the Lobos closed out the final day of the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Frerichs, a senior from Nixa, Missouri, by way of UMKC, ran a superlative time of 9 minutes, 24.41 seconds in front of 12,947 spectators at Hayward Field as she set the collegiate record and won the women's program's first individual title in track & field.

"I think I knew it was going to be possible [to break the record," Frerichs said, "but I knew it was going to be hard. My coach was yelling at me every lap that I could do it and the crowd really got me going on that last lap."

Combined with Alice Wright's runner-up finish in the 10,000-meter run on Thursday, the Lobo women placed 15th in the meet with 18 team points, both program records for highest finish and most points scored at any NCAA track & field championships, indoors or outdoors.

The previous best was in 2008, when the UNM women tied for 31st with 8 points.

Frerichs bested that record on her own, scoring 10 points via her record-breaking performance in the steeplechase.

Running in her final collegiate race, Frerichs took control at the start, leading the 12-athlete final wire to wire. She extended her lead virtually every lap, cruising over the seven-lap race en route to the fastest time in NCAA history.

The previous NCAA best was Jenny Barringer's 9:25.54 regIstered at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

For Frerichs, she now owns four of the top 10 times in NCAA history between her time at New Mexico and UMKC. She also moved to 13th in the world in 2016,

Her individual title is also the first for the New Mexico track & field program as a whole since Kendall Spencer's title in the indoor long jump in 2012. Overall, it's the 13th individual title in program history, and the first for the women's track & field team indoors or outdoors.

The Lobo women's cross country team — with Frerichs as the fourth-place finisher in the entire NCAA — won the team title last November.

"It couldn't have been any better," Frerichs said of her NCAA success. "It started off amazing; winning a team title is the most amazing thing that could have ever happened in my collegiate career. It made the stress worth it, since transferring was kind of stressful. But this year has been absolutely amazing and I couldn't ask for anything else."

Wright claimed her second straight All-American honor in the 10,000 on Thursday, running a second-place time of 32:46.99 to become the first female track athlete in UNM history to earn back-to-back All-American honors outdoors.

The top eight finishers in each event earn All-American honors.

Wright, a redshirt sophomore from Worcester, England, took the lead in the 25-lap race at the beginning and held the advantage for the first 8000 meters of the race.

She yielded the lead with four laps left, but rallied at the bell for second place.

For two days, Wright owned the best finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in program history, but yielded the honor to Frerichs on the final day of the championships.

However, they are just the second pair of New Mexico teammates to score for the women at an NCAA Outdoor Championship. Wright and Calli Thackery accomplished that last year.

Elsewhere, eight other Lobos competed during the four-day championships.

On Saturday, the women had four athletes in action in the finals of their events, including triple jump duo Jannell Hadnot (17th place, mark of 42 feet, 3¼ inches) and Aasha Marler (20th, 41-8); Sophie Connor in the 1500 (11th, 4:17.27); and Thackery in the 5000 (did not finish).

Emily Hosker-Thornhill also competed in the prelims of the 1500 (14th, 4:17.74) on Thursday.

On the men's side, three Lobos competed, with Josh Kerr in the finals of the 1500 (10th, 3:50.00), Elmar Engholm in the semis of the 3000 steeplechase (14th, 8:37.44) and Allan Hamilton in the long jump (23rd, 23-5½).

In the team scores, the Arkansas women won the team title with a score of 72 points. Oregon placed second with 62 points, with Georgia place third with 41 points. On the men's side, Florida won with 62 points, while Arkansas placed second (56 points), and Texas A&M third (50).

For the Lobos, they will head home having wrapped up the 2016 season. A handful of athletes will compete throughout the summer, including qualifying meets for the Olympic Games.