Cross country: Lobo women are in championship form at NCAA Regional - Albuquerque Journal

Cross country: Lobo women are in championship form at NCAA Regional

Lobos Gracelyn Larkin, front-left, and Amelia Mazza-Downie, center-front, compete in the Women’s 6K event at the 2022 NCAA Cross Country Mountain Regional, held at the UNM North Golf Course on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Liam DeBonis/Journal

With four runners among the top-13 finishers Friday in the NCAA Mountain Regional Cross Country meet, the second-ranked New Mexico women dominated to repeat as regional champions and earn a 15th consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships.

The Lobos finished with 56 points, well ahead of runners-up Utah and Northern Arizona, which are also both ranked among the top-10 and tied with 103 points on the UNM North Golf Course path.

And New Mexico accomplished this with one of its best runners, Samree Dishon, finishing an uncharacteristic 98th while battling a bout of food poisoning, said coach Joe Franklin.

“We wanted to try and get through as easy as possible,” he said.

Other than Dishon, it was pretty smooth sailing, Franklin said.

“She’s been our No. 1 runner at times,” he said. “But everybody else was through pretty comfortably. They didn’t feel stress. They performed really well. We got through as easily as we possibly could.”

Gracelyn Larkin led New Mexico’s effort, finishing fifth in a time of 20-minutes, 5.9 seconds over the 6-kilometer course. She paced a strong Lobos pack that included Amelia Mazza-Downie eighth in 20:11.9, Emma Heckel ninth in 20:13.5 and Aliandra Upshaw 13th at 20:27.1

“I think we just wanted to come out, build some confidence, focus on packing up and moving as a team together as the race progressed,” Larkin said. “I think we did a good job of that. We were working side by side for the majority of the race, which is always good.”

Utah Valley’s Everlyn Kemboi sped away from the pack about a kilometer into the race, wining the regional in a time of 19:47.6.

On the men’s side, it was all about Northern Arizona, as the Lumberjacks finished with 43 points, ahead of BYU by 11 points. New Mexico was 10th overall with 290 points.

And NAU teammates Nico Young and Drew Bosley finished at 28.01.8 and 28.01.9 over 10K to pace the individual race.

New Mexico’s Abdirizak Ibrahim found his form to finish 18th in a time of 28.19.0, although he briefly flirted with the lead about halfway through the race.

“I wanted to see if I could follow the cart,” he said. “The wind hit me hard and the guys from NAU shut it down quickly so I thought I’ll just fall back behind and follow them because I knew they’re a great team and also hunting a title and I knew they would take me right to the line. And that’s what happened.”

Ibrahim, who suffered a significant hamstring tear in during the Mountain West outdoor track and field championships in May, has only recently felt up to par.

The senior from Amarillo qualified for the Nov. 19 NCAA Championships as an individual for the third time and is looking for his third All-American finish.

The women, meanwhile, will be vying for a third national championship.

“What’s interesting is when you continue to look at this region, you literally have five of the top nine (women’s) teams in the country,” Franklin said. “So we tend to minimize what we’re doing because you’re around these people (top teams) all the time. But (the Lobos) are running exceptionally well. It’s just the norm.”

7090a068 Ncaa Moutain Regional Results Women 2022 1111 by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd


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