Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Prep Miler With New Mexico Roots Qualifies for Olympic Trials

Aragon - Olympic Trials qualifier
Several high school athletes will be competing at this weekend's Olympic Trials in Eugene, including two high school seniors in the women's 1500m. Kate Murphy (Lake Braddock HS, Virginia) and Christina Aragon (Billings HS, Montana) both qualified by time with the #3 and #4 prep marks of all-time (4:07.21 and 4:09.27).

Aragon happens to be the youngest daughter of legendary New Mexico miler Chuck Aragon, a former Los Lunas HS state champion, an MD and graduate of UNM medical school, as well as the alternate on the 1984 Olympic Team in the 1500m. Her mother Kathy (Pfiefer) was a standout runner at UNM who qualified to run in the Trials more than once (3x to be specific).

Quality genetics led to multiple national championships on the track as a junior last year for Christina, and at a recent qualifying race in Portland she ran away from a field of professional and collegiate runners, just dipping under the Trials mark of 4:09.50, running solo and chasing the time by herself over the final lap.

Aragon is not expected to compete at the front for one of the spots on the Olympic team, her effort will be measured a success if she can make the finals. She has committed to run for Stanford in the Fall unlike her sisters and father who all ran for the University of Notre Dame.

See the bios and achievements of all sixteen prep Trials qualifiers (12 girls, 4 boys). They include one current world champion, a couple junior world champions, and several national record holders.

Christina ran through to the semi-finals, missing out on a finals qualifier by two places finishing in 4:12:71. Kate Murphy also missed qualifying out of the semis.

Related Posts:
 - New Mexico's Four Minute Milers
 - New Mexico's Newest Olympic Hopeful (2016)
 - The Tough Guy List (Chuck Aragon)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

New Mexico's Newest Olympic Hopeful

UNM's Courtney Frerichs
The Olympic Trials are one week away and the NCAA Championships are two weeks past. This small window of time allows a moment to reflect on UNM's first and most recent individual national track champion, Courtney Frerichs. A member of last fall's national champion cross-country team, Frerichs ran away from the field in the 3000m steeplechase and soloed to the title as well as a new UNM and NCAA collegiate record in 9:24:41, breaking the previous record held by 1500m world champion Jenny Simpson by a little more than a second. Frerichs was NCAA runner-up last year running for University of Missouri Kansas City before applying as a graduate transfer to UNM for her final year of eligibility.

New collegiate 3000m steeplechase record
She was a heavy favorite to win the title, winning by nearly 100m. Her time however was exceptionally fast, 6th fastest all-time among US women, which now positions her for a realistic spot on the US Olympic team. She's currently the third US ranked woman by time:

  1. Coburn, 9:10.76 AR
  2. O'Connor, 9:18.85
  3. Frerichs, 9:24.41 CR
  4. Higginson, 9:33.38
  5. Cheever, 9:37.12 

This ranking comes with the caveat that two of the top 5 US women (Garcia, Quigley) have yet to compete this year. Both have PRs within one second of Frerichs new best. Should Frerichs find her way into the top three next week she'll be the first Olympian hailing from New Mexico since Shelly Steely and Aaron Ramirez in 1992.

Left out a few athletes with local ties (naturally).

 - Santa Fe athlete Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton is one of a handful of Americans in legitimate contention for one of the 10,000m spots. She'll be competing this weekend at the US Trials.

 - Albuquerque Academy alum and prep track phenom Curtis Beach will compete for a spot in the Decathlon. He runs for Nike, and lives and trains in Arizona.

 - Former Lobo standout Ross Millington has punched his ticket to Rio and will be representing the UK in the 10,000m. He lives and trains in Europe.

 - Another former Lobo standout and European Champion Lee Emanuel has a shot at representing the UK in the 1500m. He needs to record a time of 3:36.20 by weeks end. Lee lives and trains in Europe.

Several other UNM sprinters and field event athletes will be competing in their respective nations trials this weekend. A write-up and list of these athletes was pulled together by the UNM athletic department.

Updated 2:
Courtney finished 2nd in 9:20.92 and will be running in Rio as an Olympian. So awesome.

Related Posts:
 - New Mexicans at the Olympic Trials Marathon (2016)
 - Chuck Aragon's Kid Earns a Trials Spot in the 1500m (2016)
 - Olympic Steeplechase Recap (London 2012)
 - A Brief Meeting with Billy Mills

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Our Wild Friends

Long-tailed weasel - mustela frenata
Seems like there is an abundance wildlife in and around the city this summer. The pre-dawn chorus of birds has been amazing this week. Set your alarm (4:40am) and brew some coffee, the show is always free. In a separate encounter, my brother-in-law and running partner tells the story of a run-in of his over the weekend with what he thought was likely a litter of young long-tailed weasels along the Winsor - Big Tesuque Creek (not to be confused with black-footed ferrets, endangered and very rare). Bunch of little guys scurrying around, chirping, and looking lively. Looking for mice and squirrels I suppose. Something I've never seen in and around these parts so I imagine I'll plan to head up that way and take a look around.

Also up on the Winsor - near the Borrego junction - there have been sightings of bear as well as a lion and her cub. The lion was actually engaged in a brief chase of a descending mountain biker before the rider smartly dismounted and confronted the animal. His friend descending behind him scared the lion back into hiding. Lions are known to act aggressively toward children (small and vulnerable), and cyclists who are mistaken for deer. Think I'll take a pass on visiting the lions and with luck they won't eat up the weasel family. Be cool lions, be cool.

Lastly there was of course the bear attack up at the Valles Caldera this last weekend, though to be fair I’ve known of several sightings up that way (one was at a previous Valles Caldera Marathon event) that didn’t end in a mauling. Surprising a bear with her cub(s) shouldn't be on anyone's summer list. Glad to hear the runner is alright and hope she returns to the trails for easier miles before the winter months return.

Related (Animal) Posts:

- Nambe Creek - TR 160

Winsor along the Chamisa, Bear Wallow, and Borrego junctions


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