Open Announce

Habtom Samuel Named MW Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Year

by Connor Gilbert

After a season in which he won two more Mountain West titles in the 1500m and 5,000m and followed up with his first NCAA title in the 10,000m at NCAA Outdoor Championships, Habtom Samuel has been named the Mountain West Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Year, the conference announced Thursday.

It’s the third conference Athlete of the Year award for Samuel this academic year, completing the sweep of all three seasons in which he competed.  The Eritrean-born freshman was named Cross Country Athlete of the Year as well as Indoor Track Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Performer of the Meet at Indoor Championships. He remains undefeated in MW Championship races this year, winning an individual title in cross country before winning the 3,000m and 5,000m at Indoor Championships and the 1500m and 5,000m at Outdoor Championships.

The honor — voted on by the league’s head coaches — is awarded to the best male and female student-athlete in the Conference following the conclusion of the outdoor season.  Colorado State’s Gabi Morris took home the award on the women’s side.

At conference outdoors, the first title was out of Samuel’s usual wheelhouse – typically a 5K and 10K specialist, Samuel won the 1500m with a 3:44.04 that was 3.84 seconds faster than the time he put down in prelims, overtaking Boise State’s Ollie Newman over the final stretch with a 55.69-second final lap.

After winning the 10K final at Hayward Field for his first NCAA title, Samuel became the first New Mexico man to earn First Team All-American status in two different events at both Indoor and Outdoor National Championships — he’s the first man to finish as an All-American in two outdoor events in the same year since Mike Solomon in 1977 (440y, 600y).

UNM’s lone competitor at NCAA Outdoor Championships, Samuel scored 13 points in total for the Lobos with his first- and sixth-place finishes – the most points the UNM men have scored as a team at NCAA Outdoor Championships since 1967 (24) – to help the Lobos finish tied for 23rd in the men’s team score with Northern Arizona. It’s 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), outscoring 113 of 137 teams competing.

Since the start of the 2023-24 season, Samuel has racked up accomplishments at a pace unseen by any true freshman in UNM history. Last week, he added his first NCAA title and another All-American finish today to a lengthy resume:

  • 2023 Mountain West Athlete of the Year (XC)
  • NCAA Runner of the Week (XC)
  • USTFCCCA Mountain Region Athlete of the Year (XC)
  • Mountain West Champion (XC)
  • NCAA Mountain Region Champion (XC)
  • NCAA Championship Runner-Up (XC)
  • Mountain West Championship Record Holder (XC)
  • UNM Program Record Holder – 5,000m, 3,000m, Mile (Indoor)
  • Fastest collegiate mile ever ran at the Albuquerque Convention Center (3:59.12)
  • 11th-Fastest 5,000m time in NCAA History (Indoor)
  • Mountain West Championship Performer of the Meet (Indoor)
  • Mountain West Championship Record Holder – 5,000m, 3,000m (Indoor)
  • Mountain West Champion – 5,000m, 3,000m (Indoor)
  • USTFCCCA First Team All-American – 5,000m, 3,000m (Indoor)
  • No. 2 10,000m time in NCAA History (Outdoor)
  • 2024 Mountain West Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
  • Mountain West Champion – 1500m, 5,000m (Outdoor)
  • NCAA Champion – 10,000m (Outdoor)
  • USTFCCCA First Team All-American – 5,000m, 10,000m (Outdoor)