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Lobo Women Finish Fourth, Men Fifth at MW Indoor Championships

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Track & Field concluded its final day of competition at the 2024 Mountain West Indoor Championships on Saturday, with the women finishing fourth in the team score with 85.5 points and the men finishing fifth with 66 points.

The women scored 40 points from 10 athletes in seven events on Saturday, with the men scoring 47 points across 10 athletes in eight.

“We’re always trying to move up and be better, but it’s still our first year,” said UNM Head Coach Darren Gauson. “I think that’s the best we could have done on the women’s side, considering where we’re at this point, but it definitely adds motivation for outdoors and in the next year as well.”

Mercy Kirarei and Habtom Samuel both followed up on their 5,000m titles on Thursday with two more event wins in the 3,000m to highlight Day Three, with Samuel and Evans Kiplagat both finishing under the previous MW Indoor Championship record en route to their second 1-2 finish of the weekend. After the conclusion of the meet, Samuel was named the Mountain West Men’s Performer of the Meet for his efforts.

“We’ve got a young men’s team, young women’s team — we’re only 27 points off winning on the women’s side … we’re pretty much returning all those points and we have 24 women coming in that we’ve signed,” said Gauson. “I really think we can be in the mix to win next year with what we have.

“You look at our signees that started in January — Hanna Bruckmayer, 13 points, Mercy [Kirarei’s]’s 20 points, Gabriella [Szabo] scored in the 800 and Harriet [Tuson] was just off making the final — so we’ve got more of that coming in this fall.”

Adam Giron opened up the day of competition in the men’s high jump finals, scratching out at a 1.91m mark.

After qualifying for the women’s mile finals yesterday, Hanna Bruckmayer finished as the MW Runner-Up in the finals with a 4:47.85 time to bring in eight points early, overtaking two runners in front of her over the final lap to get on the podium in her first conference championships as a Lobo. Behind her, Sarah Eckel finished 10th (5:04.45).

On the men’s side, Luke Cunningham (4:19.89) finished eighth to bring in the first point of the day for the Lobo men, but Samuel Field – who held the Mountain West’s No. 3 time heading into this weekend and put down the second-fastest time in prelims – did not finish after taking a spill on the final lap.

Lou-Anne Pouzancre Hoyer – who ran the fastest 400m time in yesterday’s prelims to qualify for the finals – became the second Lobo woman on the podium after running a new personal best (53.23) to finish second in her heat behind MW leader Shaqueena Foote (SDSU) and third overall. Her time ranks No. 2 on the UNM Indoor all-time list.

Brodie Young followed with a season-best 46.90 time for a fourth-place finish in the men’s 400m to bring in five points for the Lobo men, only one-hundredth of a second out of matching his third-place finish in the event in 2023. He finished eighth in the 200m as well with a 21.78 time to tack on another point for the men. Up next in the men’s 60m dash, Victor Akhalu brought in four more with a fifth-place finish (6.74) to close out UNM’s sprints competition.

Freshman Kyle Hatler became the first men’s pole vaulter to score points for the Lobos since 2020 — when his coach, Gabriel Brown did it — with a fourth-place finish, clearing 4.86m (15′ 11¼”) to score five points. Brown also finished fourth in 2020.

Julia Kellner brought in another point for the women with an eighth-place finish in the

In the women’s 800m, Klara Dess put down the second-fastest 800m time in UNM history with a big PR (2:07.83) that secured her second-place – her highest-ever finish at MW Indoors – to yield eight points. 

On the men’s side, Osaze Demund (1:50.87) finished fourth and Matthew Larkin (1:54.64) and Dylan Burrows (1:56.58) finished seventh and eighth, respectively to bring in eight more points for the men. Demund’s PR after conversions stands at 1:50.27 — a new national record for the U.S. Virgin Islands native.

Kirarei won her second conference title of the weekend in the women’s 3,000m, resisting a late push to retake the lead over the final lap and finish with a 9:23.29 time. Behind her, Semira Mebrahtu Firezghi finished fourth (9:38.71), Hanna Bruckmayer finished sixth (9:45.11) and Sophia McDonnell finished 10th (9:52.78).

“The future looks really bright — Mercy’s very new, very raw,” said Gauson. “She didn’t have the fall to prepare, but that’s a huge weapon this fall in cross country — with her and Nicola [Jansen], it’s gonna be a nice one-two punch.”

En route to his second title of the weekend, Habtom Samuel also broke his second Mountain West Championship record of the weekend with a 7:57.59 time to complete UNM’s sweep of the 3,000m races. Runner-up Evans Kiplagat (8:04.96) was the second runner to finish under the previous championship record, ahead of Thomas Termote (15th, 8:20.23).