Written by: NMSU Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Saturday, Sept. 8 marks a new era of New Mexico State cross country, as head coach Orin Richburg and assistant coach Paul Harkins open the 2007 season. The Aggies will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., to compete at the Lobo Invitational and are taking a solid returning core on the women’s side and a plethora of new additions within the men’s squad.
This will be the first time in recent years that the Aggies open their season against I-25 rival, but both coaches said that they feel confident and are excited as the first meet approaches.
“We are looking forward to this meet,” Richburg and Harkins stated. “It gives us an opportunity to see what we have with the returning student-athletes and to see what we need to do to be successful at the conference meet.”
There are six teams competing at the meet, including regional power UTEP, who is the defending 2006 Lobo Invitational Champion, along with Diné College, CU-Colorado Springs, El Paso CC, Gateway CC, and New Mexico.
“UNM attracts some strong competitors, so this should be a great first-race,” Harkins said. “It will be a great indicator to see what we are made of.”
Both coaches have also stated that they are impressed with the work ethic and attitudes of all the student-athletes.
Leading the women are senior talents Beth Sandoval and Andrea Leitner, along with junior Christina Herrera, sophomore standout Precious Nelson, Caprice Bradshaw and Brittany Hurtado.
The Aggies also have a strong three-man freshman class that should be an intricle part of the team’s progress throughout the season. The three-man class consists of Amy Arenas, Rayanna Fernandez and Brandi Gutierrez.
There is also a solid foundation forming on the men’s side, with a strong recruiting class and a few fundamental returnees. Harkins and Richburg will look to the returnees to provide immediate leadership and believe that senior duo Josh Sifuentes and Chris West will do the job just fine.
The recruiting class includes Michael and James Hart, Patrick Hernandez and Austin Brackeen.
“It will be good to see how both teams finish,” Harkins stated. “But more than anything, I want 100 percent effort, because with effort comes success.”
Saturday's action begins with the men starting the 8k race at 9:45 a.m. and the women starting the 6k race at 10:15 a.m. Results of all the action can be found at www.nmstatesports.com at the conclusion of the meet.