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Tribute to Larry Baca - Former Los Alamos Coach, Husband, Father and Friend will be missed

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NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS RUNNER UP!

lobos2ndMADISON, Wis.— For the fourth time in the last five years, the University of New Mexico cross country team finished in the top-three after concluding the 2018 cross country season with a runner-up finish in the NCAA Championship behind three Lobos that finished in the top 10.

The second-place finish also marked the ninth-straight top-10 performance at the NCAA Championship.

"I thought it was fantastic," assessed head coach Joe Franklin. "The women continued on the New Mexico tradition of being great at the NCAA Championship."

Sophomore Weini Kelati crossed the line at 19:45.3 to finish runner-up in the 6K, held at the Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course, after leading for a portion of the race.  She was edged out in the backstretch by Colorado's Dani Jones, who won the individual title with a time of 19:42.8.

Kelati trimmed five places off of her 2017 NCAA Championship standings, although she ran about 10 seconds slower in Madison.  

Junior Ednah Kurgat placed fifth with her time of 19:55.8, followed by senior Charlotte Prouse, who capped her collegiate cross country career with a ninth-place finish of 20:02.1.

Kelati, Kurgat and Prouse were named All-Americans for their results, which are given to the top 40 finishers, giving UNM 21 All-American honors since their streak of top-10 team finishes started in 2010.  It is the second year in-a-row that all three have earned the distinction. 

Sophomore Adva Cohen was the fourth Lobo to score, placing 43rd overall, but 38th in team points, with 20:39.7. Senior Emily Martin was the final point-scorer for UNM with 49 points after running 20:44.7.

Junior Hannah Nuttall completed the race in 20:53.0 and sophomore Sophie Eckel rounded out the Lobo entries at 21:19.4.

Colorado claimed the team title with 65 points, placing all five scorers in the top 22, whereas the Cherry and Silver, wearing their signature turquoise, tallied 103 points. Oregon finished 57 points behind New Mexico to finish third in the standings.  

"We just got beat by a better team in Colorado," said Franklin. "They were absolutely on fire. There's nothing else we could have done.

"The race went according to plan. It went better than what we planned, just Colorado was on fire."

Through the first 2K of the race, Kelati ran in the lead pack, sitting in third at 6:38.2 and just 0.2 seconds behind the leader. Kurgat and Prouse ran close together further back in 15th and 17th at the first split, clocking 6:39.2 and 6:39.3, respectively.

At the 4K mark, Kelati held steady in third with a time of 13:27.7, while Kurgat improved her placement 10 spots to fifth, checking in at 13:27.9. Prouse was able to move up one spot in the second portion of the race, registering 13:29.8.

In the final portion of the race, at about the 15:17 mark, Kelati made her move and moved away from the pack to take the lead, holding off the competition until the very end when Jones overtook her in the final stretch of the course to take the win.

This season, Kelati has been the top-finisher for the Lobos in all five races that she's competed in, earning three individual wins and two runner-up finishes, including Saturday's NCAA race. Kurgat has also had a consistently solid season to follow up her remarkable sophomore campaign, collecting three runner-up finishes- with Kelati and Kurgat finishing 1-2- as well as a third-place result and and Saturday's fifth-place finish. 

"Not only has Weini grown, but Ednah, her roommate, has grown," said Franklin. "You have two of the best women in the country, two of the best young runners in the world, that are teammates.  Weini has put herself in an amazing place. I can't say enough good things about her."

Prouse held as the reliable third runner for UNM this season with all but one top-10 finish through her five appearances. 

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We are the NMTCCCA !!!

Begun in 1987 by a small group of visionaries with the goal of a NM Meet of Champions, as well as developing better communication and unification between all track and cross country coaches, the New Mexico Track and Cross Country Coaches Association was born and has grown to what you see today. Our association has and must continue to be the guiding force for positive change and the protection of all aspects of New Mexico Track and Cross Country that we believe important to our athletes and our coaches. Changes are a part of life. We are our best "Advocates" for helping to direct that change in a positive and constructive way. We must continue to "Educate" our membership and give them the best tools for success. And, as a professional organization, we must "Celebrate" those successes, those stories, those special moments and actions that make our sports such wonderful tools in helping to mold the youth of New Mexico. We ARE the NMTCCCA !!!

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