Lobo cross country runner makes national headlines in collegiate debut

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. β€” After the departure of former Lobo cross country head coach Joe Franklin, the future of UNM’s cross country team was up in the air.

With new head coach, Darren Gauson, finding his groove in this rebuild year with the Lobos, it seems like they are already on the right path in getting their men’s and women’s teams on pace to make national noise — something the Lobos running squad has always been known for.

That’s become very apparent on the men’s side after freshman phenom Habtom Samuel made his collegiate debut on September 22 at the Roy Griak Invitational. He breezed through the finish line in this 8K race with a 23:36.4 time, beating his opponents by 24 seconds. Samuel’s performance, and his teammates, was good enough for a third place team finish for the Lobos.

It was also the fastest time ran on that course as an individual winner since 2011, which helped him pick up NCAA Runner of the Week honors the week after.

It wasn’t long before he picked up Mountain West runner of the week too.

The freshman, from Eritrea, says he wants to run under 23 minutes this season.

The 2023 Mountain West Conference Championships are on Oct. 27th at Boise State, with the 2023 NCAA DI Cross Country Mountain Regional meet on Nov. 10 at Texas Tech.

The NCAA Championship meet will be held at Virginia on Nov. 18 — a meet where Samuel and along with his teammates could really put New Mexico back on the map in their rebuild year.