Lobos Seek Strong Finish at NCAA Championship Saturday
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— It is once again time championship time in New Mexico. However this time, The University of New Mexico women’s cross country team is after a national championship.
Held at the Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind., the nationally ranked Lobos will break out their turquoise uniforms to run in their 12th consecutive national championship race on Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m. MT in pursuit of their third national championship after winning it all in 2015 and 2017.
In addition, the Lobos look to keep the tradition of success alive as they have finished in the top-10 in the team standings in the last nine years and four times finished in the top-four, including the last two years.
Historically, New Mexico has navigated the Indiana course in the championship race seven times, the latest occurring in 2016. Although, the best finish for the Lobos at the championship on the course happened in 2014, when the Cherry and Silver finished third with 188 points, led by Alice Wright.
In last year’s championship race held in Madison, Wis., the Lobos finished runner-up behind Colorado with Weini Kelati claiming the runner-up finish in 19:45.3 after being passed down the home stretch by Colorado’s Dani Jones. UNM finished with two runners in the top five with a fifth-place showing by Ednah Kurgat (19:55.8) and three in the top 10 of the standings with Charlotte Prouse’s ninth-place result (20:02.1) and finished with 103 team points. Kelati, Kurgat and Prouse all earned their second career all-America honors for their performance.
As head cross country coach Joe Franklin has stated several times this season, “you can’t fake fitness,” and there certainly will be no exception on Saturday as the Lobos will be tested with the best runners in the country for 6K.
Kelati and Kurgat will once again be expected to be among the leaders in the field as the race unfolds, and the Lobos look to rely on the recent performances of the past few races from Gracelyn Larkin, Adva Cohen and Hannah Nuttall to continue to put UNM in contention for another podium result. Running for the first time this season will be Alondra Negron, giving UNM another option for team scoring to go along with Brenda Rosales-Coria, Juanita Johnson and Alexandra Harris.
UNM is coming off two successful races starting with the MW Championships in which Kelati and Kurgat went 1-2, respectively, with Kelati winning by over 49 seconds, followed by Nuttall in fifth, Larkin in 10th and Harris 13th as the Lobos scored 31 team points to win their 12th consecutive team title. In the most recent race on Nov. 15, Kelati cruised to another individual title at the NCAA Mountain Regional with a time of 18:57.8, finishing 57 seconds ahead of Kurgat, who finished runner-up. Cohen placed 15th, Nuttall placed 25th and Johnson 40th to give UNM 83 team points for a second-place finish behind BYU to solidify the automatic berth to the NCAA Championships.
COACH FRANKLIN MEETS WITH THE MEDIA
HISTORY IN TERRE HAUTE:
2016: 7th, 310 points
2014: 3rd, 188 points
2013: 10th, 301 points
2011: 9th, 322 points
2010: 5th, 227 points
2009: 13th, 368 points
2008: 18th, 475 points