No. 1 Lobo women romp at re­gion­als

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - JOUR­NAL STAFF RE­PORT

PROVO, Utah. — In or­der to achieve their ul­ti­mate goal, New Mex­ico’s No. 1-ranked cross coun­try women didn’t have to win Fri­day’s NCAA Moun­tain Re­gional. But for good mea­sure, they did any­way.

Led again by in­di­vid­ual win­ner Weini Ke­lati, who won her third in­di­vid­ual race, the Lo­bos placed six run­ners among the top 16 fin­ish­ers in the 6-kilo­me­ter race at the East Bay Golf Course. And in do­ing so, they es­tab­lished them­selves as se­ri­ous threats to re­peat win their third NCAA ti­tle in four sea­sons.

UNM scored 41 points to out­run sec­ond-place run­ner-up Colorado (53) and host BYU (85) in the 20-team field.

The team ti­tle, UNM’s first at the re­gional since 2011, car­ries an au­to­matic bid to next Sat­ur­day’s NCAA meet in Madi­son, Wis. The top two teams at each of nine re­gion­als run Fri­day earn au­to­matic bids. At-large berths will fill out the 31-team NCAA field for each gen­der. With their ré­sumé, the Lobo women would have been a shoo-in in any case.

Ke­lati came in at a per­sonal-best 19 min­utes, 15.0 sec­onds to give the Lobo women their third in­di­vid­ual win­ner in as many years, fol­low­ing Alice Wright in 2016 and Ed­nah Kur­gat last year. Kur­gat fin­ished be­hind Ke­lati at 19:313.7.

New Mex­ico State’s women, led by top run­ner Jess Dominguez (55th, 21:20.7) fin­ished 16th.

UNM’s men fin­ished 10th of 17 teams Fri­day, and they are not ex­pected to get a bid to the NCAAs.

Jared Gar­cia fin­ished fastest for the Lobo men, com­plet­ing the 10K course in 29:58.1 for 27th place.

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