Preview: Lobos seek 3rd NCAA title Saturday
STILLWATER, Okla. – In pursuit of a third NCAA cross country title, the University of New Mexico women will take to the Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course on Saturday morning in the final meet of the 2022 season.
Seven Lobo women will participate in the race, and Abdirizak Ibrahim will run on the men’s side after earning an at-large berth for the third season in-a-row. “Our goal is always to get to nationals and at least have a chance,” said UNM head coach Joe Franklin. “Our runners are confident but not arrogant, and they are driven to help each other as a team. We are looking forward to the gun going off. In order for us to be successful, we need to have a 12-17 second gap from 1-5. If that happens, then we will be in a good spot.”
2022 NCAA Cross Country Championships
Saturday, November 19 – Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course – Stillwater, Oklahoma
Women’s 6k Race – 9:20 a.m. Central/8:20 a.m. Mountain
Men’s 10k Race – 10:10 a.m. Central/9:10 a.m. Mountain
Watch Live: ESPNU
Live Results: https://pttiming.com/results-current.php
New Mexico won the NCAA Championship for the first time in 2015 and repeated the feat in 2017, and the two-time national champions enter the race as one of the favorites. As it has been all season long, UNM appeared at No. 2 in the latest USTFCCCA national rankings released on Monday.
The Lobos are fresh off their sixth NCAA Mountain Regional crown, running away with the title last Friday at the UNM North Golf Course in Albuquerque. It was the second major team victory of the season for UNM, which secured its record 15th consecutive Mountain West Conference title on Oct. 28. The Lobos will be competing in the NCAA Championships as a team for the 15th consecutive season under the guidance of 15th-year head coach Joe Franklin.
Including its two national titles, UNM has finished in the top-10 in the nation in each of the last eight seasons and has finished in the top-five in six of those seasons. The Lobos are coming off a third-place finish at the 2021 championships, and have five returners on the squad who each competed in the race last year.
Lobos XC 2022 NCAA Championship Women’s Participants
|Runner||UNM PR (6k)||Date||Event|
|Amelia Mazza-Downie||19:37.3||10/29/21||Mountain West Championships|
|Emma Heckel||19:37.9||10/29/21||Mountain West Championships|
|Gracelyn Larkin||19:41.2||10/29/21||Mountain West Championships|
|Abigail Goldstein||19:44.2||10/29/21||Mountain West Championships|
|Ali Upshaw||19:46.0||10/29/21||Mountain West Championships|
|Samree Dishon||19:51.8||10/29/21||Mountain West Championships|
|Elise Thorner||19:57.6||10/28/22||Mountain West Championships|
|Semira Mebrahtu Firezghi||20:25.7||10/28/22||Mountain West Championships|
|Sarah Eckel||20:30.3||10/28/22||Mountain West Championships|
|Danielle Verster||20:35.3||10/28/22||Mountain West Championships|
|Samantha Valentine||21:09.4||10/14/22||Nuttycombe Invitational|
|Maisie Grice||21:33.9||10/14/22||Nuttycombe Invitational|
|Isabella Fauria||22:24.7||10/14/22||Nuttycombe Invitational|
|Lauren Bettencourt||22:39.0||10/15/21||Nuttycombe Invitational|
*Among UNM’s 14 runners, seven will compete in the championship meet on Saturday.
PLETHORA OF CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE: Among the 14 runners UNM will bring to Stillwater, seven of them have participated in the NCAA Championships before. Senior Gracelyn Larkin is the most experienced of the group with three championships under her belt, and she finished as an All-American in both 2020 (25th place) and 2021 (21st place).
Last year Larkin became the eighth runner in UNM women’s history to repeat as a cross country All-American. Among that list of runners, four were three-time All-Americans including four-time All-American Alice Wright (2014-17). Carole Roybal (1984-86) was the first Lobo to earn the award three times, with Wright followed by Ednah Kurgat and Weini Kelati (2017-19).
UNM Lobo Women’s XC Multi All-American Award Winners
|Runner||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
Amelia Mazza-Downie is the other Lobo with multiple championship races in her repertoire, after placing 58th in 2020 and 56th last fall at the national meet.
Emma Heckel was UNM’s top finisher at the championships last year, cruising across the line in 18th place to claim All-America status. Abigail Goldstein took 47th at last year’s championship race, and Ali Upshaw also competed for the Lobos taking 140th. Semira Mebrahtu Firezghi and Elise Thorner are also in the Lobo lineup this fall, after placing 116th and 121st, respectively, at the 2020 event which was run in the spring of 2021.
Lobos w/NCAA Championship Experience
|Semira Mebrahtu Firezghi||116|
IBRAHIM LOOKS FOR THIRD ALL-AMERICA AWARD: The lone men’s runner on Saturday for the Lobos, Ibrahim will look to repeat his performance at the 2020 and 2021 championship meets, where he garnered All-America status. His debut in the 10k came at the 2020 championships, when he ran a time of 30:42.0 minutes and placed 35th. He improved by two spots the following fall, finishing in 33rd place at the 2021 championships with a time of 29:29.1 minutes.
Competing in his first 10k event of the 2022 season at last week’s regional, Ibrahim posted a PR in the distance with a time of 28:19.0 minutes to take 18th place and earn his spot in Saturday’s race. Ibrahim is the third repeat All-American in program history, joining Matt Gonzales (2001, 2004) and Luke Caldwell (2012, 2013). No Lobo runner has earned three All-America awards in cross country on the men’s side.