Open Announce

Habtom Samuel Wins Mountain Region Championship; Lobo Men Finish Third, Women Finish Seventh

LUBBOCK, Texas – New Mexico’s Habtom Samuel won the NCAA Mountain Region individual championship and Evans Kiplagat and Lukas Kiprop finished third and fourth to lead a third-place finish for the Lobo men that puts them in contention for their first NCAA Championship appearance since 2014, with Nicola Jansen qualifying as an individual with a runner-up finish to lead the women to seventh in the team score.

Two weeks after being named MW Athlete of the Year following an individual win at conference championships, Samuel crossed the finish line in 28:57.6 in his first collegiate 10K, beating out top NAU runner Nico Young for his third individual win this season. Northern Arizona took the team title with 36 points, with the Lobos in third just eight points shy of second-place BYU (89 points).

“Habtom did a great job of controlling his energy and effort,” said UNM Head Coach Darren Gauson. “Lukas, Evans and Habtom pushed the last 1k and were able to separate themselves from the field — apart from Nico Young, who is obviously one of the best in the country.

“I thought our team did an excellent job of executing the game plan – we feel really good about an at-large bid and we’ll wait for the confirmation tomorrow.

Behind Samuel, Lukas Kiprop (29:00.0) and Evans Kiplagat (29:03.9) both packed into the Top Four to pick up All-Region honors and secure individual qualification for NCAA National Championships in Charlottesville, Va. next week.

Samuel is the first UNM men’s Mountain Region individual champ since 2004, with the three All-Region finishers being the most for the men since 2008. The Lobos’ third-place finish is their best since 2013.

Jansen finished as runner-up with a massive 29-second PR (19:25.1) to lead a seventh-place team finish for the Lobo women in a highly-competitive race, securing herself an individual spot at the National Championship race next week along with the men’s trio.

“I am so happy for the women’s team,” Gauson said. “I thought we had our best race of the season today — we really showed up and performed at our best.

“I’m delighted for Nicola — what a terrific performance,” he added. “To finish 2nd in the region is a great accomplishment.”

Both teams will learn their postseason fates with tomorrow’s NCAA Selection Show at 3 p.m. MT. 31 teams per gender will be selected, with 18 on each side automatically qualifying by finishing in the Top Two in their respective regions, with the remaining 13 picked at large. The full field will be posted here when it is unveiled.