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Habtom Samuel, Lobo Men win MW Titles in Boise

BOISE, Idaho – Behind a blistering race from Habtom Samuel to lead a 1-2-3 finish, New Mexico Men’s Cross Country claimed its first Mountain West team Championship since 2014 Friday morning in Boise, with Nicola Jansen (2nd place) leading a fourth-place finish for the Lobos in the women’s team total.

In his first year as Head Coach, Darren Gauson was named Mountain West Coach of the Year for the men’s historic finish en route to the program’s seventh men’s conference championship. Samuel was named Mountain West Men’s Athlete of the Year, with Evans Kiplagat named Men’s Freshman of the Year. The first UNM athlete to win an individual men’s championship since 2012, Samuel’s finish was the fastest-ever in a Mountain West Championship race and first sub-23-minute performance in history.

“Very proud and grateful to coach such a wonderful group,” Gauson said. “It was a team effort today — To go 1,2,3 was incredible, but Johnny [Carmin] and Sam [Field] closing the door as fast as possible in the 4 and 5 spot was key. Great to get our first men’s championship in 9 years.”

With today’s results, the Lobos have won either a men’s or women’s MW team championship in every season dating back to 2008.

“The women were courageous and gave everything they had,” Gauson said. “Very happy for Nicola, she competed incredibly well!”

Samuel became the first men’s MW individual champion since 2012 with his dominant first-place finish (22:57.7) ahead of Evans Kiplagat (2nd, 23:15.7) and Lukas Kiprop (3rd, 23:23.3) – all three ran the fastest races of their collegiate careers. Behind them, it was Jonathan Carmin (8th, 23:42.1) and Samuel Field (20th, 24:07.7) who made the difference in a tight battle with No. 26 Air Force in the team total.

A combined six UNM athletes earned All-Mountain West honors, with Jansen, Samuel, Kiplagat and Kiprop all earning First Team honors and Carmin and Klara Dess (11th place) finishing on the Second Team.

UNM finished with 34 points, shaving 17 points off their total over the back half of the race as Carmin and Field moved up 5 and 12 spots respectively in that span. UNM didn’t take the lead until the 6K mark, when Carmin’s push into the Top 10 finally put the Lobos over the edge. Field moved up seven spots over the final kilometer to give the Lobos the points they needed to stay ahead late.

Lobo Men's Cross Country celebrates its first Mountain West title since 2014 and Darren Gauson speaks about the Lobos' breakthrough performance.

In the women’s 6K, Jansen stuck with the front pack the whole way and came away with a runner-up finish in her first MW Championships, crossing the finish line in 19:54.1 after going neck and neck with individual champ Sarah Carter of Colorado State. Behind her, Klara Dess finished 12th (20:38.4) ahead of Tyler Schwartz (26th, 21:05.4), Sarah Eckel (30th, 21:14.6), Tina Nisoli (42nd, 21:36.9), Isabella Fauria (63rd, 22:35.7) and Maleah Goldie (67th, 22:43.1) to round out the Lobos’ point-scoring.

WOMEN’S POSTSEASON AWARDSAll-Mountain West Cross Country First TeamHalle Hamilton, Air Force
Yasmin Austridge, Colorado State
Sarah Carter, Colorado State
Quinn McConnell, Colorado State
Nicola Jansen, New Mexico
Emma Thornley, Utah State
Abigail Whitman, Wyoming

All-Mountain West Cross Country Second Team
Ally Peterson, Air Force
Naomi Lokiles, Boise State
Autumn Ost, Boise State
Kaiya Robertson, Boise State
Kensey May, Colorado State
Klara Dess, New Mexico
Natalia Ruiz, UNLV

MW Women’s Student-Athlete of the Year: Sarah Carter, Colorado StateMW Women’s Freshman of the Year:  Julia Kiesler, Boise State
MW Women’s Coach of the Year: Kelly Hart, Colorado State
MEN’S POSTSEASON AWARDSAll-Mountain West Cross Country First Team
Sean Maison, Air Force
Jason Renze, Air Force
Max Sannes, Air Force
Joe Hudson, Boise State
Evans Kiplagat, New Mexico
Lukas Kiprop, New Mexico
Habtom, Samuel, New Mexico

All-Mountain West Cross Country Second TeamEli Bennett, Air Force
Luke Combs, Air Force
Tom Graham-Marr, Boise State
Tom Patrick, Boise State
Lars Mitchel, Colorado State
Jonathan Carmin, New Mexico
Mason Norman, Wyoming
MW Men’s Student-Athlete of the Year:  Habtom Samuel, New MexicoMW Men’s Freshman of the Year:  Evans Kiplagat, New Mexico
MW Men’s Coach of the Year:  Darren Gauson, New Mexico