Lobos Sweep MW Cross Country Titles Behind Oeding, Caldwell

Oct. 26, 2012

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Even with the flu, the Lobos couldn’t be stopped.

For the fourth consecutive year, the University of New Mexico’s nationally ranked cross country teams swept the team and individual titles at the Mountain West Cross Country Championships on Friday.

Despite key runners fighting through the flu, the 17th-ranked women’s team won its fifth-straight conference championship behind champion Lacey Oeding, while the No. 12 men’s team was paced to its fourth-straight title by titlist Luke Caldwell.

“Our sport is not a sport where you can have the flu and we had a lot of sickness last week,” said New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin. “For them to do what they did is really impressive.”

The Lobos shined at Silver Bowl Park in Las Vegas, as the women claimed the team championship with a 35-63 win over Colorado State in the low-score-win format, and the men held off Air Force 22-49.

On the women’s side, the five Lobos made the All-Mountain West Team, including the Women’s Athlete of the Year in Oeding.

“I think the women have just run at a really high level,” Franklin said. “And it’s an expectation that you’re going to go out and give a 100 percent.”

Oeding, who was the conference’s Freshman of the Year at the 2008 conference championships, won the women’s 6-kilometer race with a 20:49.97 time, the fifth-fastest time in MW Championships history.

“Lacey is an incredible athlete,” Franklin said. “She is a very determined woman who will absolutely wreck herself. She gets everything out of her body and works very hard.”

Oeding was also the third-straight Lobo to win the women’s individual crown, following Ruth Senior in 2011 and Natalie Gray in 2010.

Charlotte Arter finished as runner up with a 20:51.62 time, while team ace Josephine Moultrie placed fifth with a 21:05.28 time.

Moultrie, who battled illness coming into Friday, had the lead late but could not sustain it.

“Josephine took the lead with about 2000 meter left and about 20-25 mile per hour wind,” Franklin said. “That’s tough to do when you’re alone … and you’re not feeling the greatest.”

Shawna Winnegar (13th, 21:31.74) and Imogen Ainsworth (14th, 21:32.32) also scored for the women and made Second Team All-Mountain West, while Chloe Anderson (15th, 21:34.89) and Janna Mitsos (18th, 21:42.19) registered strong times.

Luke Caldwell claimed the men's individual title. (Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos)

On the men’s side, Caldwell outran the field and claimed the men’s individual title with a 24:26.70 time.

Another Lobos battling through illness, Caldwell wrapped up the men’s third individual crown in the last four years, joining Jacob Kirwa (2009) and Ross Millington (2011).

“We had some guys just make some jumps and step up,” Franklin said. “It was a really solid group effort.”

Patrick Zacharias finished third overall on the 8K course with a time of 24:38.49, and was followed by 2012 MW Freshman of the Year Elmar Engholm.

Engholm, the Lobos’ first Freshman of the Year since Millington’s co-honor in 2009, placed fourth with a 24:39.76 clocking.

“Elmar just keeps better and better and better and if can end up being one of the top five freshman in the country that’s an incredible achievement,” Franklin said.

Adam Bitchell finished sixth with a 24:42.74 time and joined Caldwell and Engholm in earning First-Team honors.

Sean Stam, who also had been ill, rounded out the men’s scorers with an eighth-place time of 24:43.53. He was named Second-Team All-MW for his performance.

Donovan Torres (17th, 25:01.38) and Sam Evans (18th, 25:05.01) also ran for the Lobos, who recorded the largest margin of victory at the MW Championships since 2006 when BYU defeated Air Force 27-76.

“You score 22 points at a conference meet against a very good Air Force team shows they work well together,” Franklin said.

Franklin also took home some accolades, as he earned his fifth consecutive Women’s Coach of the Year and his second straight Men’s Coach of the Year.

But with the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 9, he’s not resting on his honors.

In fact, he’s only looking for one thing:

“Just make sure we don’t get sick.”

If Friday was any indication, he might not have to worry.