Open Announce

Lobo Women Close at Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational to Tie NC State

by Allison Weiss

MADISON, Wis.— The No. 2 Lobo women’s cross country team closed on No. 1 NC State in the final 2000-meters of Friday’s Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational to improve 50 points, tying NC State for first with 80 points in the 6K Championship race.

UNM had two finishers in the top-10, led by Samree Dishon in eighth at 20:05.9, followed by Gracelyn Larkin at 20:06.0. Amelia Mazza-Downie crossed at 20:08.1 for a 12th-place finish, while Elise Thorner (20:18.0) and Emma Heckel (20:18.4) finished 25th and 26th, respectively, for the 80 team points.

NC State took the team title on a tiebreaker, with the five scorers going head-to-head against each other. NC State had the 1-2-18-23-36 finishers, with the Lobos at 8-9-12-25-26, giving NC State the 3-2 edge.

“The women were fantastic,” said head UNM cross country coach Joe Franklin. “They ran exceptionally well and ran the way all of the great teams from New Mexico have run in the past- with passion, grit, and unbridled confidence.  They take great pride in being able to wear turquoise, which is very special to our team.

“A 12 second spread (runners 1-5) is very unique in our sport-truly special teams always have special qualities about them. The gap is ours.”

Much as was the case in the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational, the Lobos got stronger as the race went on, starting in fourth place in the team standings at the first checkpoint of 2000-meters at 183 points.

Larkin improved 10 spots at the 4000-meter checkpoint to go from 27th to 17th, with Dishon moving into position to make a late move going from 43rd to 19th (24 spots) and Mazza-Downie moving up 12 spots from 34th to 22nd. Heckel moved up 26 spots and Thorner held steady in 40th with 2000-meters remaining. As a team, the Lobos moved up from fourth to second in the team standings at the marker, dropping 53 points.

The improvement in the team point total in the final stages of the race, with Dishon moving up 11 more spots and Larkin eight more spots. Mazza-Downie closed with a 10-place improvement, Thorner a 15-place improvement and Heckel seven spots for the Lobos to close the gap on the Wolfpack and create a tie.

In the men’s 8K Championship race, the Lobos finished 31st as a team, with Jonathan Carmin as the top finisher at 90th (24:00.9).

“Jonathan had a very solid race moving great throughout the field,” commented Franklin.  “The men are getting better each time out. The MW Championship is the next big race on the calendar and we’re looking forward to improving on last year’s finish.”

UNM also had runners in the women’s 6K B race, with Sarah Eckel winning the race in 20:48.2 and Semira Mebrahtu Firezghi finishing fourth in 21:03.2. Samantha Valentine was the third Lobo to finish in the top-10 at ninth (21:09.4) with Maisie Grice crossing at 21:33.9 for 26th and Christina Nisoli 27th at 21:35.3. The Lobos finished second in the team standings behind BYU, with the Lobos at 50 points and the Cougars at 33 points.

Up next for the Lobos, UNM has added a race next Friday, Oct. 21 at UCCS ahead of the Mountain West Championships on Oct. 28.