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Lobos Kerr, Kurgat get Athletes of the Year honors

University of New Mexico track and field athletes Josh Kerr and Ednah Kurgat made school history with regard to big-time honors for indoor on Monday. The duo became the first Lobos to earn Mountain Region Athletes of the Year, as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association selected them for their respective genders.

Kerr, a two-time NCAA champion and current NCAA leader in the mile run, was named the Mountain Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year, while Kurgat, who’s ranked top-three in the NCAA in two events, was selected as Mountain Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year.

For Kerr, one of his season highlights came when he ran a personal-record time of 3 minutes, 54.72 seconds in the mile to place second in the elite Wanamaker Mile at the NYRR Millrose Games last month. That time makes him the fifth-fastest collegian in the mile run in NCAA history with the sixth-fastest mile time in NCAA history. His time also ranks fifth in the world in 2018.

Kerr also broke both Miles Batty’s Mountain West mile record (3:55.79) and the New Mexico mile record of 3:57.62 set by two-time NCAA champ Lee Emanuel in 2010.

Additionally, Kerr won his second straight Mountain West mile title and anchored UNM’s distance medley relay team to its second straight win two weeks ago at the Mountain West Championships.

He clocked a raw time of 4:00.62 in the finals, which converts down to a 3:55.38 when the NCAA altitude conversion is applied. That time, although not superior to his season best of 3:54.72, would still lead the NCAA this season.

Kerr also anchored New Mexico’s DMR to a nation-leading time of 9:33.41 (9:24.73 converted) that leads the NCAA by nearly a full second and set a Mountain West record.

That time is superior to the standing NCAA record of 9:25.97 when the altitude conversion is applied; however, the conversion is only used for NCAA qualification, not for official records.

For Kurgat, her best performance of the year came when she clocked a time of 15:19.03 in the 5,000-meter run at the Boston University Season Opener.

That mark broke the UNM 5K standard of 15:54.29 set by Natalie Gray in 2011 and the Mountain West standard of 15:21.85 set by Boise State’s Allie Ostrander in 2016.

Kurgat ranks sixth in NCAA history in the 5,000, and heads into the NCAA Championship (Friday and Saturday at Texas A&M) seeded second in the event.

She also ran a personal-record time of 8:57.47 in the 3,000-meter run at the Husky Classic in February to set the New Mexico record in the event. She is seeded third in that event heading into the national championships.

On top of that, Kurgat placed third in the mile at the MW Championships and anchored the Lobos’ DMR to the NCAA’s third-best time this season at 10:57.77.