Open Announce

Lobo Men Finish 11th in USTFCCCA's Program of the Year Final Standings

by Connor Gilbert

New Mexico’s Men’s Cross Country / Track & Field program capped off its first year under Head Coach Darren Gauson with its highest finish since 2015 in the USTFCCCA’s John McDonnell Men’s Program of the Year final standings on Tuesday, clocking in at 11th overall.

The Lobos finished with 76.5 points in the standings – which rank teams in order of fewest points based on team finishes at all three championships – beating out traditional powerhouses like Stanford (No. 12, 78 points) and BYU (No. 13, 80 points) along with Georgetown, Villanova, Tennessee and Notre Dame.

It’s the highest the UNM men have finished in the Program of the Year standings on the men’s side since a seventh-place finish in 2015, when the Lobos finished 14th in XC, 31st at Indoors and 36th Outdoors for a total of 84 points. This year’s race was the first time the Lobos qualified as a team for the XC National Championship race since 2014.

The Lobo men finished 18th in the nation as a team at NCAA Cross Country Championships, 35th at Indoor Championships and 23rd at Outdoor Championships over the 2023-24 academic year, with Habtom Samuel leading the way with five First Team All-American finishes (XC, Indoor 3K, Indoor 5K, Outdoor 10K, Outdoor 5K) and Evans Kiplagat adding two more All-American honors (XC, Indoor 5K) to round things out. Samuel became UNM’s first NCAA Outdoor Champion since 2019 last week when he rallied late to take the men’s 10,000m title in dramatic fashion after hitting the deck with two laps to go.

Samuel scored all 13 points for the Lobos in Eugene with his first- and sixth-place finishes in the 10K and 5K – only the fifth time UNM has produced 13 or more points in the men’s team score in program history and the highest the Lobo men have finished in the team score since 2017. UNM concluded the week as the second-highest placing non-P5 team in the men’s field behind Harvard (T-16th).

Habtom Samuel is still in the running for the prestigious Bowerman Award after making his first career appearance on the Award Watchlist on May 30 — Samuel is just the second man from New Mexico to be named to the watch list, joining two-time semifinalist Josh Kerr (2017, 2018).

First awarded in 2009, The Bowerman is bestowed to collegiate track & field’s top male and female athlete for the year, regardless of discipline. The Bowerman Advisory Board, and ultimately, The Bowerman Voters, are instructed to consider performances inclusively from the collegiate indoor track & field and outdoor track & field seasons only. Award semifinalists will be announced on Tuesday, June 18 (women) and Thursday, June 20 (men), with finalists slated to be announced on Monday, June 24 (women) and Tuesday, June 25 (men).