Lobos Aiming to Increase Numbers for NCAAs at Notre Dame

Feb. 28, 2013

Schedule Get Acrobat Reader | Heat Sheets Get Acrobat Reader | Meet Notes Get Acrobat Reader

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Lobos took a program-record five individual athletes to the NCAA Championships in 2012.

This weekend, they're aiming best that mark.

The University of New Mexico’s track and field team is taking a small contingent of athletes to the Alex Wilson Invitational to increase its number of participants at the upcoming NCAA Indoor Championships.

As the top 16 individual athletes and the top 12 relay teams qualify to the national championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 8-9, the Lobos are looking for additional athletes to join NCAA locks Josephine Moultrie and Luke Caldwell.

The pair, both coming off multiple Mountain West champions each, have all but guaranteed their spots at the NCAA Championships. Moultrie ranks ninth in the nation in the 3000-meter run and 14th in the mile, while Caldwell is eighth in the 5000.

However, they are the only two Lobos currently in place to advance.

Looking to join the duo on the men’s side are Kendall Spencer (long jump), Floyd Ross (triple jump) and the distance medley relay team of Alex Herring, Charles Lewis, Sam Evans and Caldwell. For the women, distance standouts Kendra Schaaf, Imogen Ainsworth, Shawna Winnegar and Kirsten Follett are all looking to advance in the 5000.

Out of that group of NCAA hopefuls, three rank in the nation’s top 50 and have realistic shots to punch a ticket for the national championships at Loftus Sports Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Ross and Spencer, both back-to-back MW champions, rank 18th and 22nd, respectively, in their events. Both competed at the NCAA Championships last year, with Spencer taking the title in the long jump and Ross finishing eighth overall in the triple jump.

This weekend, Ross will aim to improve on his season best of 51 feet, 11 inches in the triple jump, while Spencer is looking to recapture last year’s magic and better his season best in the long jump of 24-9 ¾.

The other Lobo who ranks top-50 nationally and has solid odds to qualify is Kendra Schaaf, who has a career best in the 5000 of 16 minutes, 21.71 seconds. That time ranks 45th in the nation and puts Schaaf within reach of an NCAA bid.

Of the other three women heading to South Bend, Winnegar is the only one to have run a 5K in 2013. She clocked a 16:47.37 at the Husky Classic three weeks ago that ranks just outside of the NCAA top 100.

Ainsworth and Follett have never raced in an indoor 5K while at New Mexico, but both have experience in the event. Ainworth, who last ran a 5K in 2011, comes in with a personal record of 16:49.07, while Follett’s collegiate best is an outdoor time of 18:58.21.

The final group of Lobos eying an NCAA berth is the distance medley relay team of Herring, Lewis, Evans and Caldwell. Herring will man the 800-meter leg, while Lewis will take the 400-meter leg, Evans the 1200-meter leg and Caldwell the 1600-meter leg.

The squad, which has never run together before, needs a time in the neighborhood of 9:40 to potentially qualify.

All but one of the Lobos will compete on Friday, as the men's long jump is at 4 p.m. MT, the women's 5000 is at 5 p.m. MT., and the men's DMR is at 6 p.m. MT. The men's triple is on Saturday at 9 a.m. MT.