Lobos Kick off Season with Stellar Showing under the Lights

Aug. 31, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Underneath the night sky, the Lobos did their best impression of stars.

The University of New Mexico men's and women's started their 2012 cross country campaign with a stellar showing under the lights at the 2012 Lobo Cross Country Invitational Friday night, as both squads had multiple runners place in the top ten.

“The first meet of the year is really interesting because you don’t know what you’re going to get,” Head Coach Joe Franklin said. “We didn’t know what running at night was going to be like. From a team standpoint, it was really positive and a lot of good things happened.”

One of those good things was the strong showing for a women’s squad that came in inexperienced, having lost its four top runners from last year to graduation.  

But, despite the limited veteran leadership, the women were able to capture third place through sixth place en route to snagging five of the top ten finishes. Josephine Moultrie (third, 18:26.0) and Lacey Oeding (fourth, 18:34.7) led the Lobos on the 5-kilometer course, and were joined by Janna Mitsos (fifth, 18:54.8), Kirsten Follett (sixth, 19:08.6) and Sophia Torres (tenth, 19:27.7) in the top ten.

“(The women) did a really good job,” Franklin said. “Some of the younger women that need to start becoming national-class runners are staring to make that change.”

Among those younger runners were Sam Sheppard and Nancy Holguin, a pair of returners that placed 19th and 31st, respectively. True freshmen Kristen Kientz (26th) and Shannen Ramey (30th), both of whom ran unattached, also posted strong results in their first collegiate competition.

New Mexico State sisters Courtney and Camille Schultz took the top two positions.

The men also rolled out a strong performance under the lights at the University of New Mexico’s North Golf Course. The Lobos were paced by Sean Stam and Pierre Malherbe in the men's 8 km race as the men ran rested a handful of runners, including ace Ross Millington.

Stam registered a 19:14.2 time, while Malherbe crossed the finish line in 19:38.0. Pat Zacharias, a transfer from the University of Arizona, placed third running unattached.

“I think we did awesome,” Stam said. “Zacharias ran really well. I think all the other guys ran pretty well, too. I think we’re going to have a really good year. I think this year we can be a top-fifteen team.”

Chris Montoya (17th, 20:00.9), JP Cordova (20th, 20:07.0) and Vince Montoya (32nd, 20:38.9) rounded out the Lobos’ top five runners in uniform. Freshmen Graham Thomas (33rd), Donald Plazola (40th) and Jordan Farrell (43rd) all ran unattached in their first collegiate race.

Former Lobo Nicholas Kipruto, also running unattached, won the event for the third consecutive year with an 18:56.9 time.

However, one of the major headlines of the night wasn’t just the runners, but instead when they were running.

For the first time in New Mexico history, cross country happened at night.

And, like the Lobos, it was a huge success, as entries for the invitational’s seven races rose from approximately 1,300 entrants in 2011 to over 1,800 this year.

“From an atmosphere (standpoint): unprecedented and amazing,” Franklin said. “There’s probably 5,000, maybe 6,000, people here. It’s amazing.”

Over the course of the evening and night, high school and collegiate runners from across the state and region experienced an event that is almost exclusively run during the day.

 “It’s quite cool,” said Moultrie. “All you can hear is the crowd running, and you’re just following the light and the screams of the crowd, so it’s quite fun.”

The Lobos return to action for a daytime affair down south at New Mexico State’s Kachina Classic on Sep. 17.