Mazza-Downie wins 5,000, Brouw breaks 800 record in Seattle
SEATTLE – In her 2023 indoor debut on Friday night in Seattle, Amelia Mazza-Downie had one of the signature performances of her New Mexico career as she cruised to victory in the women’s invitational 5,000-meters at Dempsey Indoor.
The five-time All-American and reigning Mountain West Conference champion in the 5,000-meters shattered her personal best by nearly half a minute, as she ran the fourth-fastest time in the NCAA this season at 15:18.54 minutes. “The whole time I was really relaxed and not stressing about qualifying for nationals,” said Mazza-Downie, who most certainly punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships in Albuquerque on March 10-11. “I was just thinking about winning and that time would come. I sat behind the pacer and first girl the whole time until the last lap, and then I just picked it up to win.”
Mazza-Downie topped a field of 60 competitors in the event, flirting with Weini Kelati’s school record of 15:14.71 minutes along the way. It was the fastest time by any Mountain West runner this season, with teammate Gracelyn Larkin standing a distant second at 15:37.47 minutes, and it was just 2.61 seconds off Katelyn Tuohy’s national-leading mark of 15:15.92 minutes this indoor season. “It was really exciting,” Mazza-Downie commented on the race. “I had been consistent with training, so I thought about that the whole time and used it to my advantage. I was just enjoying it and not putting too much pressure on myself, and the result came. I wanted to qualify for nationals at home, and I am happy with that.”
“Amelia has now put herself not only in UNM history but also NCAA history with this being a top-20 all-time mark,” said UNM head coach Joe Franklin. “For her to achieve a time like the one she did proves she is competing at an elite, world-class level.”
After the Australian’s headline performance on Friday, Ethan Brouw followed on Saturday by breaking the school record in the 800-meters with a time of 1:47.21 minutes. That topped Michael Wilson’s mark of 1:47.66 minutes which he ran on Feb. 23, 2019, and Brouw improved last week’s personal best of 1:48.07. “I knew after last week’s race I was in good shape, and the things I needed to improve on,” said Brouw after his strong time at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic. “One of the big ones was getting out a little quicker. Staying behind the top guys is what I did, and coming around with 300 to go I could feel I was in the mix and still in it. The last 150 coming off the bend, I gave it everything I had.”
Brouw, who already had the top time by any Mountain West performer this season, vaulted into contention for a national championship berth as his was the eighth-fastest time by any NCAA runner this season. Brouw finished third among a field of 40 competitors, and Washington’s Nathan Green (1:46.99) was the only NCAA runner to cross the finish line before him. “I was aware I was close in time to the record, bug going into this race I wasn’t focused on that,” Brouw said when asked about breaking the school record. “When I saw the time on the board it was a bit of an unreal moment. It is hard to put into words, but I was pretty excited.”
“Ethan has done an exceptional job this year, after having significant struggles last year as a freshman,” said Franklin. “He stuck his head down, worked hard, and did all the little things correctly. When you do that, at some point it always pays off. Now he has become one of the best in the country.”
Also emerging victorious in Seattle was Abdirizak Ibrahim, who rewrote his personal best in the mile with a time of 3:57.21 minutes on Saturday to win among a field of 106 runners. That was an improvement of just more than half a second from his previous best of 3:57.85 minutes, which he ran on Feb. 18, 2022. Overall it was the 19th-best mile time in the NCAA this year and the best in the Mountain West as he surpassed Air Force’s Sam Gilman (3:58.65). Matthew Larkin also grabbed a PR in the mile on Saturday, checking in with a time of 4:01.83 minutes to place 15th.
On Saturday in the mile, Abigail Goldstein finished second among a field of 115 competitors with a lifetime-best time of 4:34.15 minutes. Although she was competing unattached, she topped her previous best of 4:35.70 minutes which she ran on Feb. 14, 2020 during her career at Harvard.
Stefanie Parsons was just behind Goldstein in third place with a personal best time of 4:34.37 minutes. That topped her mark of 4:35.51 minutes that she hit on Jan. 27 in Albuquerque, it was the fastest time in the Mountain West this year, and it was the 24th-fastest in the NCAA. “My 3k didn’t really go as I wanted on Friday, so I was just going to go in and try to compete a lot better,” Parsons said. “ I was just trying to compete and trying to win it, and I ended up running a PR so that was good. You can’t focus on the time, it’s just about competing and the time comes along with it.”
Also recording personal bests in the mile on Saturday were Klara Dess, at 4:45.98 minutes, and Lauren Bettencourt, at 4:49.68 minutes. Sarah Eckel finished in 13th place for the Lobos with a time of 4:40.26 minutes in her first official mile race in a Lobo uniform. Samree Dishon finished with a time of 4:43.17 minutes, Larkin finished in 4:47.76 minutes, and Thorner crossed the line in 4:54.56 minutes for UNM. “Stef had a lifetime best, Samree ran great, and Gracelyn had a lifetime best as well which is positive,” Franklin said.
Running the 3,000-meters for the first time competitively, Dishon was UNM’s top finisher as she took 10th place with a time of 9:04.21 minutes. Larkin was close behind and hit a PR with a time of 9:05.12 minutes, and Parsons finished with a time of 9:17.14 minutes. The Lobos hold five of the top six spots in the Mountain West in the 3,000-meters, with Dishon, Larkin, Eckel, and Parsons ranking 1-through-4 and Thorner sitting in sixth place at the end of the week. “It’s really nice, and we all work out together,” Parsons said on the teamwork and success of the distance team as a whole. “When a race is getting hard, I just try to stick with them, and I know what they are capable of. It is good when the results pay off because we work really hard for them.”
On the men’s side in Seattle, Jonathan Carmin notched a personal best in the 3,000-meters with a time of 8:01.63 minutes. That slated him 23rd among a field of 92 runners, and it was the second-fastest time recorded by a Mountain West athlete this season.
While the distance crew turned heads in the Emerald City, plenty of other Lobos put forth standout performances at the Don Kirby Invitational also running Friday-Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Perhaps the top comprehensive performance came from newcomer Logan Neely, who established PRs in both the 200-meters and 400-meters, and unleashed the most thrilling performance of the weekend running the closing leg of the women’s 4×400-meter relay on Friday night.
A huge closing kick from Neely led the Lobo women’s 4×400-meter relay team to a record-breaking performance, as she took down her counterparts from Oregon and Alabama down the stretch in the final lap. If it had been a 410-meter relay the Lobos would have won, as Illinois’s Madison Hardamon had just enough in the tank to hold off the fast-approaching Neely by 0.23 seconds at the finish line. “My first 200 is never where everybody else’s is at, so I just trust my racing and know that it’ll come back to me,” Neely said on her late-kick mindset. “I trusted my training, started kicking, and I blinked and I was there. Sometimes with my 200 being behind, I don’t know if I will actually be able to come back. So when it happens, it feels really good. I end up passing people, and it makes me feel stronger and stronger towards the line.”
The Lobo foursome of Tianna Holmes, Rebecca Grieve, Aleksandra Wolczak, and Neely settled for a second-place finish, with their time of 3:38.39 minutes (3:37.95) topping the record of 3:39.77 set earlier this season. UNM also held firmly to its top spot on the Mountain West performance list. “I know we are a strong team, and I just go into the relay knowing that we just have to work together,” Neely said on her approach to the relay. “I just try to make sure that I close it off for my team and finish strong.”
Neely continued her career weekend with a big PR in the 400-meters, cruising to a time of 54.64 seconds (54.53) for a personal best and the fourth-fastest time in the Mountain West in 2023. She got her meet off to a strong start Friday, cruising to a big PR in the 200-meters with a time of 24.71 seconds (24.64). “This is only my second time running the 200, so I just wanted to make sure that I got out and did better than the first time I did it,” Neely said after running a time of 25.27 seconds at the New Mexico Team Open on Jan. 28. “I feel like I didn’t finish as strong in the 200 the first time. The 400 is more of my race, but today I wasn’t thinking about a PR. After last week I knew what I needed to fix on it, so I just tried to execute that without worrying about the time that popped up.”
“Logan had a challenging situation and transferred into us,” Franklin said on Neely, who arrived at UNM after the semester break in January. “She has really found a home at New Mexico. She is super coachable, she works hard, and she gets better each week. Now that we have a week off she can regroup before the conference meet, and I expect her to do great things.”
Holmes competed in the 400-meters on Saturday, finishing with a time of 54.23 seconds (54.12) which was the fastest time by a Lobo this season and the third-fastest in the Mountain West. Competing in the 400-meters for the first time collegiately, Wolczak ran a time of 55.86 seconds (55.57) which was ninth best in the conference this year.
The Lobo men’s 4×400-meter relay squad, fresh off breaking the Mountain West Conference and UNM school records last week, ran toe-to-toe with three of the top relay squads in the NCAA on Friday night. UNM narrowly missed improving upon its own record of 3:06.58 minutes (3:06.14), finishing with a time of 3:06.80 minutes (3:06.36). That slated the Lobos in third place, behind Alabama and UCLA and just ahead of Florida State. Jovahn Williamson ran the lead leg, and was followed by Jevon O’Bryant, Victor Akhalu, and Brodie Young.
In Saturday’s 400-meters, O’Bryant matched his personal best exactly at 46.52 seconds (46.41), and Young topped his personal best with a time of 46.65 seconds (46.54).
Reigning Mountain West Field Athletes of the Week Elizabeth White and Jake Burkey were in action on Friday evening competing in the long jump. White finished seventh among 88 competitors with a leap of 6.09 meters (19’ 11.75”). Burkey meanwhile finished in sixth place among 50 jumpers with a leap of 7.53 meters (24’ 8.5”).
Alyssa Gregory put together a PR in the pole vault, clearing a height of 3.76 meters (12’ 4”) on Friday night. That pushed her beyond her mark of 3.55 meters (11’ 7.75”) which she hit on Jan. 21, and it tied her for fifth among all Mountain West performers this season. Kiara Quezada-Arzate matched Gregory in the pole vault, clearing a lifetime-best 3.76 meters (12’ 4”) competing unattached on Friday. Kailey Ludwig hit a mark of 3.31 meters (10’ 10.25”), and Abbie Schwieder cleared a height of 3.16 meters (10’ 4.5”).
Mikyla Harkley grabbed a PR on Day 1 of action Friday, saving her best for last in the long jump with a mark of 5.65 meters (18’ 6.5”) on her final attempt. That edged her previous best of 5.64 meters (18’ 6”), which she set at the 2022 Mountain West Championships. Harkley also competed in the 60-meters, where she was just off her PR with a time of 8.11 seconds (8.09).
Ayoub El Ashmawi bettered his 200-meter time from Jan. 27 by the thinnest of margins, hitting a mark of 21.81 seconds (21.74) to improve his personal best on Friday. Rivaldo Leacock ran a time of 21.72 seconds (21.65) in the 200-meters,, and Gal Arad finished sixth in the men’s unseeded 200-meters among a field of 42 competitors, posting a time of 21.54 seconds (21.47). He followed with a mark of 6.94 seconds (6.92) in the 60-meters on Saturday.
Grieve got her weekend started with her first-ever collegiate 200-meters, coming through with an indoor personal-best time of 24.77 seconds (24.70) on Friday afternoon. Annamaria Leszczynska checked in with a time of 25.44 seconds (25.37) in the 200-meters, and Analisa Ibarra ran her fastest-ever 200-meters with a time of 26.01 seconds (25.94). Kora Pettengill turned in her best 200-meter time of the season at 26.16 seconds (26.09), Alexandra Adams hit a personal best in the 200-meters for the second straight week at 27.15 seconds (27.08), and Leigh James checked in at 27.38 seconds (27.31).
Kevin Mulcaire captured a personal best in his first mile race of the season, finishing in 4:02.13 minutes (4:07.52) to take second place among a field of 39 competitors. Semira Mebrahtu Firezgi represented the Lobos on the women’s side, finishing with a time of 5:05.76 minutes (5:12.56), and the unattached Danielle Verster was the top performer in the mile finishing in 4:49.37 minutes (4:55.81) to win the event.
Mckenna Watson had the Lobos’ best 60-meter time of the meet, with a mark of 7.73 seconds (7.71) on Saturday. Alexandra Adams hit a PR with a time of 8.22 seconds (8.20), while Pettengill ran the 60-meters for the first time this season, finishing with a time of 8.09 seconds (8.07).
Ibarra hit another personal best mark later on Friday, clocking in at 57.92 seconds (57.81) in the 400-meters, and Leszczynska recorded a time of 9.07 seconds (9.05) in her first-ever 60-meter hurdle race. On the men’s side, Gannon Christman ran a time of 8.72 seconds (8.70) in the 60-meter hurdles.
Leacock ran in the 200-meters, coming through with a time of 21.72 seconds (21.65) finishing 0.20 seconds off his indoor personal best in the event. He followed that with a personal-best in the 400-meters with a time of 47.32 seconds (47.21) on Saturday.
Zennia Gonzalez and Pettengill got the meet started for the Lobos on Friday morning with each competing in the long jump. Gonzalez posted a mark of 5.20 meters (17’ 0.75”), while Pettengill hit her best jump of the season at 4.80 meters (15’ 9”) on her final attempt.
Alyssa Magallanez posted a high jump mark of 1.57 meters (5’ 1.75”), matching her best height of the 2023 indoor season. Victoria Plummer also participated in the high jump, hitting a mark of 1.57 meters (5’ 1.75”).
“This four weeks is actually pretty hard, even though it is at home,” Franklin said as Saturday’s meet signaled the conclusion of four consecutive weeks of competition at the Convention Center. “Now we get a little break before the conference championships, and hopefully we have a chance to go in and compete for lots of titles everywhere on the track.”
LOOKING AHEAD: The Lobos enter the championship portion of their indoor schedule beginning next week with the USATF Championships. The Mountain West Conference Championships will follow on Feb. 23-25, and the indoor season will conclude with the NCAA Championships on March 10-11. All three events will be held at the Albuquerque Convention Center.