New Mexico’s pack run can’t quite overtake the pack at the NCAA championships

Amelia Mazza Downie

New Mexico’s bid for a third NCAA national championship in women’s cross-country came through Saturday in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
However, with a second-place finish, the Lobos will bring back a trophy for a top-three finish for the seventh time in the last nine seasons.
And for only the second time in the program’s history, the top five runners at UNM earned All-American status by finishing in the top 40.
Second-place New Mexico had 140 points; The top-ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack won the title with 114 points on the Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course.
“To do that seven out of the last nine years to bring a trophy back to New Mexico is so rare,” said UNM coach Joe Franklin. “I can’t put into words what they have accomplished over the last ten years. These women have done this over and over again.”
The Lobos capitalized on a bundled wolf pack with a span from top finisher to fifth of just 11.1 seconds.
The problem, however, was that the spread was from Amelia Mazza-Downie, who placed 22nd by completing the 6K in 20 minutes and 2.8 seconds, to Elise Thorner, who placed 40th in 20 :13.9 became.
NC State, meanwhile, had three runners ahead of the best Lobo, including singles champion Katelyn Tuohy in a time of 19:27:7, with another runner in third place.
“You did great,” Franklin said. “I said if we had a margin of 15 to 17 seconds we would do well. It was 11.1 so they did great.”
New Mexico started from far behind and was 17th overall at the first checkpoint at 1.11km. The Lobos had advanced to 15th place by the second checkpoint at 2.05 km. However, in the next segment, UNM started to climb, moving up to sixth at 2.83km and then third at 4km.
“When you go into a race, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Franklin said. “You’ve done well all year. They did exactly what we asked for. There was literally nothing we could have done. We were beaten by a better team.”
Early in the race, however, the Lobos were trying to snag a third national championship, said Abbe Goldstein, the lone senior of the team’s top seven runners.
“It’s such a unique situation,” she said. “On the line before the race, everyone cheered each other on and hoped for victory. But everyone is really proud. We moved up from third place last year and were a lot closer to the top team than last year.”
Goldstein, who finished in 20:41.1, good for 109th place out of 253 finishers, said she was disappointed with her result but was honored to serve for the Lobos in her last two seasons as a Harvard graduate run for office.
“The girls did great,” she said. “The five scorers are All-Americans, which is unreal. The course was truly brutal and to have five women in the top 40 places speaks to the depth of this program. And it was a really tough course. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever walked on. It was really hard and it was pretty cold.”
Just getting the chance to be part of a trophy-winning team was an incredible experience, Goldstein added.
“It’s really special,” she said. “It’s something very few people experience. Very few people experience something like this in their lives. And the future is super bright. And so many people have also improved massively.”
In the men’s race, UNM’s Abdirizak Ibrahim, a two-time All-American, clocked a time of 30:05.8 over 10 kilometers for 84th place. Northern Arizona captured the team title.
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