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UNM women’s cross country/track ranks 5th at finish

Kansas’ Sharon Lokedi, left, is hugged by New Mexico’s Alice Wright huggs Kansas’ Sharon Lokedi after Lokedi’s win in the women’s 10,000 meters during the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships last Thursday, in Eugene, Ore. Wright finished in fourth place, adding yet another All-America honor to her storied UNM career. (Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard via AP)

If you thought that the University of New Mexico has one of the country’s best women’s programs when you combine cross country and track and field, you’re right.

It’s been quantified by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, which ranked the Lobos fifth in its program of the year standings for 2017-18. It’s the best finish by any non-Power Five conference program.

To be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for all three NCAA Championships. Scores for the award are calculated from the team’s finish at those championships (i.e., first place earns one point, second place two points, 31st place 31 points, etc.), and the low score wins. Leading the final standings was Stanford (15 points), with Oregon (17) and NCAA indoor champions Georgia (20) rounding out the top three.

The Lobos scored 29, which included a point for their national championship cross-country performance last November, a tie for 10th (10.5 points) at the NCAA indoor track and field meet, and a tie for 17th (17.5 points) at last week’s outdoor finals in Eugene, Ore.

UNM’s cross country crown was its second in three seasons, but eighth consecutive top -10 performance at the NCAAs, the longest active streak. It also produced four All-Americans (individual champ Ednah Kurgat, Weini Kelati, Charlotte Prouse and Alice Wright).

During the NCAA indoors meet in March in College Station, Texas, Kurgat and Kelati earned All-America honors in two events, the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs. Kurgat was runner up in the 5,000 and eighth in the 3,000, while Kelati took fifth in both disciplines.

Prouse, Wright and Kurgat all ran to All-America status last week in Eugene. Prouse was the national runner-up in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, while Wright took fourth in the 10,000 and Kurgat was sixth in the 5,000. The UNM women’s 16 points comprised the second-best performances in program history (15th place and 18 points in 2016).

Click here for final program of the year standings for NCAA Division I men, women

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