First Cross Country Meet A Success, Women Finish 3rd, Men 9th

Written by: NMSU Athletic Dept.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Freshman talent Brandi Gutierrez led the way for the New Mexico State women's cross country squad, posting an impressive fifth place finish, while leading the squad to an overall third place victory, Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. The men's squad posted a seventh place finish with freshman Michael Hart leading the way.

Assistant Coach Paul Harkins said that he is very pleased and a bit excited with everyone's solid performance. Overall, he said he felt that everyone stuck to the teams' strategy, which was to start the race conservative and finish hard.

"They all gave a 100 percent effort, which was what I wanted," Harkins said. "I was also impressed with the freshman, Brandi ran an impressive first collegiate race, along with Michael, who is one tough competitor."

Gutierrez (El Paso, Texas) finished the 6k race with a time of 18:47, sophomore Precious Nelson (Whittier, Calif.) was the second Aggie to cross the line, clocking a performance of 19:14, which was good enough for 11th place.

Sophomores Brittany Hurtado (Albuquerque, N.M.) and Caprice Bradshaw (Fairfield, Calif.) claimed the 14th (19:21) and 15th (19:28) spots, respectively. Senior due Beth Sandoval (Sauk Rapids, Minn.) and Andrea Leitner (Kamuela, Hawai'i) rounded out the top 20. Sandoval finished 18th spot with a time of 19:47 and Leitner was 20th with a mark of 20:04.

For the men, Hart (Santa Fe, N.M.) finished the 8k race with a time of 27:27. Twelve spots later freshman Patrick Hernandez (El Paso, Texas) crossed the line with a time of 27:59. Austin Brackeen (Chikasha, Okla.) finished 50th with a time of 29:04 and senior Daniel Waldo (Las Cruces) placed 56th, stopping the watch at 29:24.

Taking home the gold on the women's side was New Mexico with 21 points. UTEP finished second with 45 points and NMSU brought home the bronze with 54 points.

On the men's side UTEP defended its title, becoming the 2007 Lobo Invite Champions with 19 points and New Mexico was second with 59 points. The Aggies accumulated 176 point which placed them seventh.

"We are a young team and have a lot of stuff to work on, but there is always room for improvement and I just know that everyone is going to get better this as time goes on," Harkins said.

The Aggies will be back in action Friday, Sept. 14 in Santa Teresa, N.M. to compete at the Lori Fitzgerald invitational.