SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Earlier in the week, New Mexico head coach Joe Franklin said the Lobos would lay it all out on the line.
They did that, crossing the line first in one instance, too.
Charlotte Arter paced a winning performance for the women and Adam Bitchell guided the men to third place as the University of New Mexico’s cross country teams shined Friday at the Notre Dame Invitational.
Arter won the individual title and led five Lobos to top-20 finishes en route to dominating the women’s five-kilometer race, while the men were propelled by top-50 times from all of their scorers in their five-mile run.
“I think it went really well,” Franklin said. “Whenever you go out at your first real meet and put a solid effort out you’re going to reap the rewards later in the year. And the men and women both had a very solid efforts.”
Against a strong field on both sides, the No. 12 women and the No. 15 men emerged with one of their best combined performances at a national-level, regular-season meet.
It’s the first time in seven trips to Notre Dame that the Lobos had both teams place in the top three, and it’s the first time since 2003 that either gender won a regular-season cross-country meet outside the state of New Mexico.
On the women’s side, the Lobos ran away with the team championship behind not only their ace, but also superb races from the rest of their squad.
Arter, who placed 10th at this meet last year, stormed to the top finish via her tremendous time of 16 minutes, 9.3 seconds. She finished a full eight seconds ahead of runner up Agnes Sjostrom of SMU.
“She ran a very smart race,” Franklin said. “That was a great run for Charlotte.”
However, New Mexico had more than just one stellar performance in store.
“The depth that the women has is pretty good right now,” Franklin said. “They worked really well together as groups and they helped each other out.”
Still, New Mexico wasn’t done producing strong times, with Amber Zimmerman (26th place, time of 16:50.5), Emily Reese (39th, 17:00.6), Emily Hosker-Thornhill (46th, 17:04.09) and Nicole Roberts (74th, 17:18.6) all placing in the top 75.
Only six other teams (out of 20 total in the meet) managed to place five runners in the top 75.
Overall, the women tallied a team score of 49 points, more than two-times better than second-place North Carolina State’s total of 123 points.
The men’s performance was also one of success, as they combined to place all five scorers in the top 50.
Bitchell was the first Lobo to cross the line at the Notre Dame Golf Course, finishing 11th overall in 23:35.8. With the team’s former ace, Luke Caldwell, graduated, Bitchell stepped in as the team’s leader.
“Adam did a great job,” Franklin said. “He got done what the team needed to get done.”
Behind Bitchell were a slew of Lobos, with Alex Cornwell (17th, 23:43.0) and Ross Matheson (17th, 23:45.7) coming in the top 20 and Dan Studley (30th, 23:52.5) and Graham Thomas (47th, 24:09.0) rounding out UNM’s scorers.
“Absolutely thrilled,” Franklin said of the men’s performance. “… To have those guys who essentially haven’t been scorers before score shows that the system works and that they work together.”
New Mexico took third by dint of the their 125-point performance, finishing behind only No. 19 Michigan (97 points) and No. 10 BYU (112).
Nonetheless, both the men and the women picked up some substantial victories over nationally ranked teams, which bolsters the Lobos’ growing postseason résumés.
The Lobo women tallied a win over No. 30 Penn State, while the men claimed wins over No. 16 NC State, No. 18 Tulsa, No. 20 Princeton, No. 22 Southern Utah, No. 23 Eastern Kentucky, No. 24 Florida State and No. 25 Colorado State.
“It’s set us up for national-level competition and conference-level competition,” Franklin said of picking up the victories.
The Lobos will have a week off before they head to the Wisconsin Invitational, another premier national race, on Oct. 17.