Lobos Distance Runners to Highlight New Mexico Invitational

Jan. 24, 2013

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico has one of the best cross country programs in the nation.

This weekend, those distance runners look to get onto the right track.

The University of New Mexico’s track and field teams are hosting the New Mexico Invitational this weekend, Jan. 25-26, and will have almost all of their outstanding distance runners make their season debuts.

After riding veteran skill in the jumps and mid-distance last weekend at the home-opening Cherry & Silver Invitational, the Lobos look to field the majority of its team at the Albuquerque Convention Center for the first time in 2013.

But in spite of competing a limited squad last week New Mexico received a number of strong performances from its runners and jumpers, including eight top-three finishes.

Amber Menke highlighted those medaling marks, as she took second in the women's pole vault. She was joined by Shirley Pitts on the women's side in finishing top-three, as Pitts notched her own silver in the 600-meter dash.

The men posted their own collection of great finishes last weekend.

On the track, De'Vron Walker took third in the 60 hurdles, Charles Lewis snagged third in his first 400 in two years, Sam Evans clocked a third-place scorcher in the 800 and Gabe Aragon just edged teammate JP Cordova in the men's mile for third.

For the field events, Kendall Spencer claimed third in the men's long jump, while Robert Warensjo nipped fellow Lobo Logan Pflibsen in the pole vault for his own bronze finish.

But for the New Mexico Invitational, a great deal of the expectations rest on the legs of the Lobos' top-notch harriers in what should be strongly contested mile runs for both the men and women.

“It's going to be a good race at altitude,” New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said of the mile runs.

“Hopefully there will be some NCAA qualifiers from this race.”

Amber Menke looks to build off of her strong start to 2013

Between men’s standouts Luke Caldwell, Sean Stam and Adam Bitchell to the women’s top runners in Kirsten Follett and Imogen Ainsworth, New Mexico will see its championship-caliber distance runners match up in a championship-caliber mile run.

The 21st-ranked Northern Arizona men and the No. 2 Division II Adams State men and women look to be strong competition in mile runs on both sides.

Also, Lobo headliner Josephine Moultrie will also make her season debut, but not in Albuquerque. The two-time Mountain West Cross Country Athlete of the Week is heading to the UW Invitational hosted by Washington in Seattle. 

Besides New Mexico's distance runners, the Lobos also are slated to have its best jumpers compete.

Spencer and Floyd Ross are primed for the long and triple jumps, respectively, while Django Lovett is aiming to make his season premier in the high jump

Menke, who has cleared 12-8 both meets in 2013, is also ready for the pole vault along with men’s vaulters Pflibsen and Warensjo.

The UNM sprinters — led early in 2013 by freshmen Ridge Jones and Carlos Wiggens — will also compete.  Zoe Howell has been pacing the women’s sprinters so far in this indoor campaign, and will join Pitts this weekend in the women’s 4x400 relay.

The meet starts Friday at 3 p.m. MT with the women's long jump, and is followed up Saturday with the preliminaries of the men’s 60-meter hurdles at 10:45 a.m.

Check liverunningresults.com throughout the meet for live results and GoLobos.com after the meet Saturday for a full recap and photos.