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Habtom Samuel Wins Griak Invite in Debut; Lobo Men Finish Third, Women Sixth

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Habtom Samuel won the Men’s Collegiate 8K race at the Roy Griak Invitational by 24 seconds and Lukas Kiprop and Evans Kiplagat both cracked the Top Five to lead a third-place finish for New Mexico, with the Lobo women following up with a sixth-place team finish in the Women’s 6K behind second- and eighth-place finishes from Nicola Jansen and Peyton Schieppe.

In UNM’s first big race of the season, new faces made the difference — all five of the point-scorers on the men’s side and the top three finishers for the women were newcomers.

“Outstanding debut from Habtom,” said UNM Head Coach Darren Gauson. “We’re really happy with our team performance, considering we lost Jonathan Carmin due to sickness. Excellent debuts from Evans and Lukas too.

“Nicola ran a terrific race to finish second — she mixed it with some of the top athletes in the NCAA,” Gauson added. “It’s still early in the season and we’re building towards the championship segment, but great work by our women.”

In his collegiate debut, Samuel put down the fastest winning time at Griak since 2011 – when Lawi Lalang of Arizona finished in 23:15.5 – and the second-fastest in the event’s 37-year history in beating second-place finisher Wil Smith of Gonzaga by 24 seconds to become UNM’s first-ever Griak champ. He remained in position for the top spot the entire race, holding on to the No. 1 spot for the final 3 kilometers.

He was followed by fellow freshmen Lukas Kiprop (3rd, 24:02.5) and Evans Kiplagat (5th, 24:14.1) – both also making their collegiate debuts – to make it three Lobos in the Men’s Top Five. The trio went out hard from the beginning, with all three completing the first mile of the race in under 4:30 and holding on to first through third place through five kilometers before Smith challenged late.

The Lobo men got a 50th-place finish from Thomas Termote (25:18.0) and 51st from Samuel Field (25:21.0) to solidify their point-scoring, with Matthew Larkin (62nd, 25:41.4), Yehonatan Haim (92nd, 26:30.7), Ethan Brouw (120th, 26:41.0) and Luke Cunningham (122nd, 26:45.1) following.

With 110 points in the team score, UNM finished third behind team champs No. 29 Cal Baptist (49 points) and Gonzaga (74 points) to match their best-ever finish at Griak in 2010. The Lobos – which were ranked ninth in the Mountain Region and haven’t received any national votes this season – outpaced Mountain West rival Boise State (124 points) and No. 9 Portland (138 points) to make a big statement in the first big meet of the year. The Lobos also outraced two conference foes ranked above them in their region — Wyoming (ranked No. 7 this week) and Colorado State (No. 8).

Two more Lobo newcomers led the way on the women’s side, with Jansen pushing individual champion Greta Karinauskaite of Cal Baptist – the national runner-up in steeplechase at NCAA Outdoor National Championships in June – all the way to the finish for second place. Jansen’s 20:30.6 finish was three seconds behind Karinauskaite. Behind Jansen, fellow newcomer and Bradley transfer Peyton Schieppe made it two Lobos in the Top 10 with an eighth-place mark, crossing the finish line in 21:13.4. 

Another Bradley transfer was the Lobos’ third finisher in the 6K, with Tyler Schwartz (22:02.7) finishing 34th. Rounding out the Lobos’ point-scorers behind her were Sarah Eckel (37th, 22:03.7) and Semira Mebrahtu Firezghi (43rd, 22:08.5). Next up, Klara Dess (22:17.2) finished 52nd with Stefana Purkovic (22:57.6) behind in 75th. Maleah Goldie (23:45.3) followed in 117th place ahead of Camille Jackson (149th, 24:28.9) and Isabelle Fauria (168th, 25:05.1).

The UNM women finished sixth in the team total with 124 points, beating out host Minnesota (7th, 201 points) and conference foe Wyoming (8th, 258 points) as well as nine other squads. The Lobos finished behind No. 22 Cal Baptist (63 points), No. 24 Utah (64 points), No. 29 Colorado State (96 points) and a pair of teams that received votes in last week’s poll – Portland (113 points) and Boise State (115 points).

After getting their first taste of national competition, the Lobos now wait until Oct. 13, when they head to Madison, Wisc. for a Nuttycombe Invitational with a field loaded with nationally ranked squads. Live results for both races will be available via the 2023 Cross Country schedule page on Follow @UNMLoboTFXC on Instagram and @UNMLoboXCTF on X for live coverage, race content and more.