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UNM track heads to regionals

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By The Staff

After battling for postseason bids since early April, a handful of Lobos are just one meet away from the NCAA Championships.
The University of New Mexico track and field team is aiming for the national championships as it sends 20 individuals and a relay team to the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Championships competition this week.
The Lobos are searching for top-12 finishes in their respective events during the three-day meet at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, Kansas, which would advance a competitor to next month’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.
“The goal is to put yourself in a position to where you can qualify on to Eugene,” New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said. “It’s not about winning the event, it’s about being in the top 12 and making sure you have a chance.”
The Lobos heading to Kansas are some of the best, with many from this year’s group are making a repeat appearance.
Out of the 11 women, nine men and the men’s relay team (a total of 22 athletes), 12 Lobos are back at the regionals, with a few eyeing another bid to the finals of the NCAA Championships.
For the 16th-ranked women’s team, six Lobos head into the meet with top-10 seeds, including four top-two seeds in the distance events.
Courtney Frerichs, the NCAA leader in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, leads the pack with her top-seeded time of 9:29.31. A two-time All-American in the steeplechase during her time at UMKC, the senior grad transfer has designs on continuing her banner year.
Along with her NCAA-leading time, Frerichs also set the UNM and Mountain West record in the event, and ranks third all-time in NCAA history.
Also coming in highly seeded are the trio of Sophie Connor (1,500), Calli Thackery (5,000) and Alice Wright (10,000). All three rank second in their respective events.
For Connor, she looks to stay hot after earning All-American honors indoors and breaking the New Mexico record in the 1,500. She enters with a time of 4:14.04.
Similarly, Thackery has been on a tear, and looks to claim a third All-American honor between outdoors and indoors. She took fifth in the 5,000 at the 2015 NCAA finals, and enters with a time of 15:37.44.
Wright is also in top form with her seed time of 32:36.11, and she is looking for a second straight All-American nods in the 10K after taking second in the event at the 2015 NCAA West Prelims.
Aasha Marler and Jannell Hadnot are also top-10 seeds in the triple jump, ranking ninth and 10th, respectively, with identical marks of 42-9.75. Hadnot won the MW title two weeks ago, with Marler right behind in second place.
Additionally, Marler (seeded 16th with a mark of 20-3.75) and Samantha Bowe (27th, 20-1.5) qualified in the long jump.
Back on the track, Emily Hosker-Thornhill is seeded 20th in the 1,500 with a time of 4:19.88, while Natasha Bernal is seeded 28th in the steeplechase with a time of 10:19.54.
Rounding out the Lobos’ qualifiers are seniors Holly Van Grinsven, seeded 32nd in the 100 hurdles (13.42), and Zoe Howell, seeded 46th in the 800 (2:08.34).
On the men’s side, New Mexico has a trio of top-10 seeds.
Allan Hamilton is the highest seeded, coming in at fifth in the long jump. Although he missed qualifying to the NCAA finals last year, he’s won four straight MW long jump titles and enters with a lifetime best of 25-10.25.
Elmar Engholm, seeded sixth in the steeplechase, holds a personal record of 8:40.03 in the event, and has won three MW crowns. He is the only Lobo on either side to be making a fourth straight appearance at the NCAA West Prelims.
Also seeded in the top 10 is Josh Kerr, who comes in ranked eighth in the 1500. He won the MW championship in the metric mile and sits seventh all-time at UNM in the event.
Elsewhere on the track, 19th-seeded Graham Thomas takes aim in the steeplechase with his PR time of 8:48.70, while Adam Cotton (25th, 3:44.02) and Dan Milechman (36th, 29:29.80) look to advance in the 1,500 and 10,000, respectively.
Additionally, Ridge Jones has qualifying in the 100 (44th, 10.47), and will anchor the Lobos’ 4x100 team that also features Hamilton, Scott Bajere and Carlos Salcido.
The quartet comes in with a school-record mark of 40.20 seconds that ranks 23rd.
In the field events, triple jumper Sam Trigg will look to translate his 17th-seeded mark of 51-9 into a bid, while long jumper Yannick Roggatz heads into the meet seeded 36th with a distance of 24-4 ¼.
The meet kicked off Thursday and will continue through Saturday.