Open Announce

Lobo Women Finish Second at Joe Piane Invitational

by Allison Weiss

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— The No. 3 New Mexico women’s cross country team opened the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational with a second-place team finish on Friday behind two runners in the top-10 and all five scorers within the top-20.

Gracelyn Larkin was the first Lobo to cross the line, finishing ninth at 16:20.4, followed by Amelia Mazza-Downie at 16:21.3 for a 10th-place finish. Samree Dishon made up seven spots in the final thousand meters to finish 13th at 16:22.0 and Emma Heckel (16:24.5) and Elise Thorner (16:33.0) finished 16th and 20th, respectively, to round out the team scoring.

The Lobo women made their move in the pack towards the later stage of the race with Larkin moving up from 39th at the mile marker to 17th at the 4000-meter mark before finishing ninth. Mazza-Downie progressed from 79th to 16th to crossing the line 10th and Dishon moved up from 42nd to 20th to 13th as the race went on. Heckel remained steady at 20 at the first check point, holding at 21st at the 4000-meter point and closed at 16th. Like Mazza-Downie, Thorner moved up 63 spots between the first and second check point of the race to go from 82nd to 19th, finishing 20th for the final Lobo scorer.

While not counting towards the team score, Danielle Verster finished 21st at 16:33.6, Abbe Goldstein finished 29th at 16:41.2 and Ali Upshaw finished 33rd at 16:46.6.

As a team, the Lobos were third in the team standings at the mile point of the race and while still third at the 4000-meter point, shaved off 51 points before closing the race in second with 68 points, dropping another 25 points in the last 1000-meters.

“It was a very good first meet for the women,” commented UNM head cross country coach Joe Franklin. “All eight of them were fantastic. The most impressive takeaway from today was their ability to close the last 1000 meters. It is a very fast course, so progressing at the end of the race can be very challenging.”

On the men’s side, the Lobos were led by Kevin Mulcaire, who finished 41st at 24:06.9, and Jonathan Carmin, who placed 46th with a time of 24:10.3. UNM’s final three scorers were Abdirizak Ibrahim (81st, 24:32.9), Awet Yohannes (127th, 24:56.3) and Yehonatan Haim (135th, 25:03.1). As a team, UNM finished 17th in the team standings with 412 points, with Yohannes’ result counting as 119 team points and Haim’s result counting for 125 team points.

“The men continue to improve,” noted Franklin. “Abraham is just starting to train after a long sustained injury, so I expect our results to continue to improve.”

Running in the open 5000-meter race, the Lobos finished with 25 points to win the team title, beating out Boise State by 22 points for the win.

Sarah Eckel led the way with a runner-up finish at 16:51.7, with the Lobos going 2-3 after Samantha Valentine crossed a second later at 16:52.7 for third. Semira Mebr Firezghi made it three finishers in the top-10 with a sixth-place finish at 17:20.0 and Christina Nisoli finished 12th in 17:39.7. Isabella Fauria ran 18:10.9 to finish 26th for the final scorer. While it didn’t count towards the team total, Lauren Bettencourt completed the open run for the Lobo women in a time of 18:31.2, finishing 44th.

However, due to unattached runners, when it came to the team point totals the Lobo point total was 1-2-3-7-12 for the final 25 points.

The Lobos return to competition again on Friday, Oct. 14 at the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wis. The women’s 6K will begin at 11:20 a.m. MT followed by the men’s 8K at 12 p.m. MT.