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Lobo Women’s Cross Country, Ibrahim Prepared for NCAA Championships

by Alma Solis

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Lobo cross country program is set to compete in the NCAA Championships in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday. The women’s 6K race is set for 10:20 a.m. (EST) and the men’s 10K race is set for 11:10 a.m. (EST) at the Apalachee Regional Park.

After placing first and earning the automatic qualifier at the NCAA Mountain Regional on Nov. 12, the women’s team is going dancing at the championships. The team is set to face a field of 30 other teams and 38 individual qualifiers. This marks the 14th straight NCAA Championship appearance for Lobo women’s cross country.

From the men’s side, Abdirizak Ibrahim qualified as he placed 12th with a time of 30:10.9 at the NCAA Mountain Regional on Nov. 12. He will go up against a field of 31 teams and 37 other individual qualifiers. Ibrahim has been the Lobos’ top runner on the men’s side consistently throughout the season, also placing fifth individually at the Mountain West Conference Championships. This will be Ibrahim’s second straight appearance in the NCAA Championships. In last seasons’ Championships, he earned All-American honors with a 35th place finish.

At the NCAA Mountain Regional last week, all seven Lobo runners placed in the top-35 individually on the women’s side. The top six of them – Gracelyn Larkin, Abbe Goldstein, Emma Heckel, Ali Upshaw, Amelia Mazza-Downie and Andrea Modin Engesaeth – earned All-Region honors for their performances. On the men’s side, Ibrahim earned a spot in the championships with a 12th place finish at the regional last week. He also earned All-Region honors.

The Lobos last went to the championships in the 2020 season (which was conducted in the spring of 2021 due to COVID-19). The women’s team finished sixth as a team as Adva Cohen led the team with a 22nd place finish. Both Cohen and Larkin earned All-American honors as they placed 22nd and 25th, respectively. Abdirizak Ibrahim qualified individually and took 35th place to become the Lobos’ first All-American since 2013 on the men’s side. The women have won the national championship twice in school history, during the 2015 and 2017 seasons. The team also has had two individual champions on the women’s side- Ednah Kurgat in 2017 and Weini Kelati in 2019.

To keep up with all things Lobo Cross Country, follow @UNMLoboXCTF on Twitter and Instagram.

Hear more about the NCAA Championships from head coach Joe Franklin.

Franklin has high praise for this season’s team and hopes to continue on the legacy of Lobo women’s cross country.

“They’re as gifted as any team we’ve had,” Franklin said. “They’re about 12 deep and they compare to any other team that we’ve ever had. We’ve been lucky enough to place in the top-10 [as a team] for the last 10 years so we have a really good streak going.”

Franklin said that he keeps team meetings short and sticks with a simple message for the team: “Find your teammates that you train with every day. That’s important, especially on this course, because it’s out in the woods a lot. It’s important that they find their friends and they find the people that they train with; They’re one of the best training groups in the country.”