Stevens: Top 12 Moments: Franklin's Lobos Run To Three Peat

July 9, 2012

Top Lobo Moments From 2011-12: is flashing back on 12 special Lobo moments from the 2011-12 season.
Today: Another Mountain Sweep For Joe Franklin's Runners
Wednesday: Kit Vela's Lobos Pitch a Sweep, Too

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

They say it's tougher to defend a title than it is to win a title because of that big target on your back. So how tough is it to defend a title you already have defended?

That's what Joe Franklin's Lobos did in the 2011 Mountain West Cross Country Championships. They threw out a three peat.

And Franklin's talented Lobos didn't just throw out a three peat on one side of the program. The 2011 title was the third straight for both the Lobo women and the Lobo men.

Now, Coach Franklin is the type who would go into a road race driving a Porsche and try to convince you he is the underdog to the Volkswagen bug with a flat tire. But going into the Mountain's 2011 title run there were two things that pretty much were indisputable:

1. The Lobo women were going to win.
2. The Lobo men had a shot at winning.

Yeah, the Lobo women won - actually, their fourth straight title. Behind Ruth Senior's dash to the individual title, the UNM women rolled past Colorado State by 23 points. The UNM women grabbed four of the top seven spots with Natalie Gray fourth, Kirsty Milner sixth and Sarah Waldron seventh. It was kind of a ho-hum romp - no surprise.

The men threw out the dramatics. In the closest race in Mountain West history, the Lobo men gutted out a three-point win over Air Force to hand Franklin's program its third consecutive sweep on both sides. The UNM men ran without Nicholas Kipruto and Sam Evans forcing the rest of the team to kick it up a notch.

They did. Ross Millington won the individual title with Sean Stam finishing fourth and Pierre Malherbe ninth. "Our third sweep further emphasizes to all the great runners out there that New Mexico is truly an endurance Mecca at the world-class level," said Franklin. "There is a reason athletes come to New Mexico and find success."

It was a huge meet for the Lobos as six Lobos made first team All-Mountain: Millington, Stam, Senior, Gray, Milner and Waldron. Senior and Millington were the Mountain West Cross Country Athletes of The Year and Coach Franklin swept Coach of The Year honors on both sides.

Of course, sweeps are becoming the thing to do for Lobos at the Mountain West title runs. Franklin now has seven Coach of The Year awards over the past four years.