Four Lobo Standouts Aiming for Gold at NCAA Indoor Championships
March 7, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — At the previous four indoor championships, the Lobos have won three individual championships.
Considering who is heading to this year's championships, that number might increase.
Four University of New Mexico track and field athletes are aiming to top the nation's best at the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships this Friday and Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.
"I'm excited," New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said. "We got in who we thought we would get in. ... To go to the NCAA Championships with four people is quite an accomplishment."
Three 2012 All-Americans — Spencer, Ross and Moultrie — are returning to the NCAA Championships, which puts the Lobos in position to improve on last year's performances, where the men tied for 15th with 11 points and women tied for 62nd with one point.
"They know exactly what to expect," Franklin said of the three returning national qualifiers. "There's no nerves, no unknowns. You're going into a situation that you've been into before. I think anytime you go back in, it helps."
As NCAA veterans, the New Mexico athletes heading to Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville are veritable scoring threats with a chance to place top-eight and claim All-American status.
"We're going there with four people that have a chance to score," Franklin said. "That's a very positive accomplishment."
Looking to deliver on that chance to produce points for the Lobos are four athletes whose names are etched in the record books at New Mexico — including one reigning national champion.
Spencer, the defending NCAA titlist in the indoor long jump, just made the field for the championships after closing the regular season with a 25-foot, 1 1/4-inch mark in the long jump. That mark, while a season best, ranks 17th in the nation and a spot outside of the top-16 needed to make the NCAA field.
The epitome of a "bubble" athlete heading into this week, Spencer made his way into the field as the last accepted competitor based off the list of athletes who declare for the championships.
Nonetheless, Franklin doesn't think the redshirt junior from San Mateo, Calif., will be fazed.
"Everyone goes to this meet now on an even playing field," Franklin said. "There are no previous marks. You're only as good as you do on that day. All of our kids are going in with a clean slate, so to speak."
And while all athletes at the NCAAs are on equal ground this weekend, the rest of the Lobos are looking to register finishes on par with their current ranks in the national standings.
Caldwell, for example, ranks eighth in Division I in the 5000. His 13-minute, 40.39-second time is a school and conference record, and is the highest-ranked seed time for the Lobos at the national championships.
A junior from Betchworth, England, Caldwell is looking to at least place eighth and nab an All-American plaudit with that personal-record time.
Still, he has the opportunity to place higher, especially considering he lowered his career best in the 5K by nearly a minute when he ran a month ago at the Husky Classic in Seattle.
Moultrie is also aiming high as the first woman in UNM history to compete at the national championships in the 3000. The Glasgow, Scotland native enters with the nation's ninth-best 3K time, a 9:06.35 clocking.
Like Caldwell, Moultrie's career-best mark also serves as the school record in the 3000. Additionally, she ranks second in the MW behind three-time All-American Michaela Mannova of BYU.
The fourth and final Lobo with championships aspirations is Ross, a senior from Memphis, Tenn. The first New Mexico athlete to compete in the indoor triple jump at back-to-back national meets, Ross is looking to better his personal-record leap of 52-4 3/4 that ranks 12th in the nation.
After placing eighth at last year's national meet, Ross has higher goals, considering he took runner-up honors in the triple jump at the NCAA outdoor meet last June.
He also sits second all-time at New Mexico in the triple jump behind Dwayne Rudd, who finished third in the triple jump in 1984. Ross' mark ranks fourth in MW history.
With the four athletes declared for the NCAAs, the Lobos are sending four or more athletes to the indoor championships for the fifth consecutive year, extending the longest streak in program history. The indoor high is eight, reached in 1978 and 2009.
The Lobos' four entrants are also significant in relative to the rest of the Mountain West. Six male athletes from MW institutions are competing at the NCAAs, with half being Lobos. For the women, Moultrie is one of four MW athletes entered.
The meet starts Friday at 10 a.m. with the beginning of the heptathlon and continues Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with the conclusion of the heptathlon.
The Lobos will compete on Friday at 4:30 p.m. MT (men's long jump) and 7:15 p.m. MT (men's 5000). They will follow that up on Saturday with action at 5 p.m. MT (men's triple jump) and 6:40 p.m. MT (women's 3000).
Live results will be available on RecordTiming.com and the meet will be streamed live on ESPN3 on March 8 from 6:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET and March 9 from 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m. ET. A tape delay of the championship will air Sunday, March 17 from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET on ESPNU.