Lobo men’s cross country takes Mountain West title
BOISE, Idaho — The Lobos men’s cross country team is on the rise after a successful, chilly race in Boise, Idaho.
“I’m expecting my body to run under 23 [minutes],” Freshman Habtom Samuel said in an interview with KOB 4 in the first week of October — and he did just that at the 2023 Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships.
Samuel won the Mountain West Conference Championships 8K in a 22:57.7 — a championship record. He helped lead the pack of his teammates who finished behind him in second and third — Evans Kiplagat (23:15.7) and Lukas Kiprop (23:23.3). This strong performance by the Lobos is what helped them clinch their first team win on the men’s side since 2014. This all comes under head coach Darren Gauson’s first year as New Mexico’s head coach.
Samuel got out strong and helped carry his teammates Kiplagat and Kiprop on a good pace for most of the race before he pulled away to make his move at the end. The race, ran at Eagle Island State Park was different than most cross-country courses, which are ran on different types of golf courses.
Eagle Island State Park consisted of different terrains such as gravel, different grasses, and even sand near the lake that sat in the center of the course — this made for a tough battle for runners, especially during the chilly morning of 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
The men were favored in the Mountain West pre-race coaches’ poll to place third underneath title favorites Air Force, and runner-up favorites Boise State.
You could say the Lobos upset these teams, but in the latest national USTFCCCA polls, the Lobos ranked No. 18 nationally followed by No. 23 Boise State and No. 26 Air Force.
After this race, the Lobos also picked up a few more honors:
Samuel received Mountain West Student-Athlete of the Year. Kiplagat grabbed Mountain West Freshman of the Year, and coach Gauson received Mountain West Coach of the Year honors.
The Lobos are just partly into their postseason. Next up, they’ll compete at the NCAA DI Mountain Regional meet in Lubbock, Texas hosted by Texas Tech Nov. 10.
Lobo Women’s Team Finishes Fourth
Prior to this race, the Lobos women’s cross country team had claimed the conference title the last 15 seasons under previous head coach Joe Franklin who took a new job at Louisville over the summer — that changed this year.
The women’s team was picked to finish third, and they finished up the day with a fourth-place finish. Junior Nicola Jansen ran a gutsy race battling back and forth with this year’s conference champion, Colorado State’s Sarah Carter. Jansen and Carter changed leads at many points of the 6K race with Jansen out in front for the majority of this race. Ultimately, Carter pulled away with a 19:48.5 finish, and Jansen crossed the line as this year’s conference runner-up with a sub-20-minute time too, 19:54.1.