ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – UNM Track and Field has a total of 11 athletes competing in this years NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. This is the most athletes from UNM that have qualified for the NCAA Championships since 2009, and it will also be the first time since 1966 that the Men’s 4X400 Meter Relay Team has qualified.

“We take a lot of pride in that you know. Its just we have been out here saying from day one that we could compete with anybody. You know, it doesnt matter where they go, no matter where they are from, you know we can compete with anybody in the country”, said UNM Track & Field sprinter Jovahn Williamson.

This relay group punched their ticket at the NCAA West Regional, after clocking a time of 3:04.98. That time also broke a UNM Program record that stood for 45 years. “Being that team that broke the school record is really amazing. I get to write my name in the record books with the guys, we wanted to do this together. So, its really amazing”, said UNM Track & Field sprinter Victor Akhalu.

This 4X4 Team still has some more to prove though, as from the beginning of the year they have had the NCAA Championships on their mind. “When we started practice in early September the first thing we talked about, literally September 7th, we talked about this being day one of our quest to making it to Eugene”, said UNM Track and Field Assistant Coach: Long Sprints/Jumps/Hurdles/Throws, Bob Thurnhoffer.

Making it to Eugene, Oregon, is huge for any track and field athlete, and for this group of sprinters that came together just this year, it is a special moment, because they are not only representing UNM, but they will also be the only non power 5 representative in this race. “It just shows how hard it is not being a power 5 school, its just all of have to put the peices together individually for us to work as a relay team”, said UNM sprinter Jevon O’Bryant. “I think just that kind of commrotery along with good coaching and a motivated spirit just makes it a lot better to come together”, said UNM sprinter Rivaldo Leacock.

The NCAA Outdoor Championships will run June 8th-11th.

Here is a look at all of the athletes headed to Eugene, Orgeon, per a release from UNM Track and Field:

– Amelia Mazza-Downie: Qualified as ninth seed in the 10K and 21st seed in the 5K. From Melbourne, Australia. Her season-best time of 32:55.26 in the 10K (reached on April 1 @ Stanford Invitational) ranks third amongst Australian-born athletes this season. Earned All-American honors in all three seasons this year (XC, First Team All-American in indoor 5K).

– Emma Heckel: Qualified as 22nd seed in the 10K and 2nd seed in the 5K.From Nuremburg, Germany. She is fourth this season in the 5K and sixth in the 10K amongst German-born athletes. She has qualified for all three national championships in her freshman year (All-American in XC, Second Team All-American in Indoor Season 5K).

– Stefanie Parsons: Qualified as 22nd seed in the 1500m. From Acton, Ontario. 14th best in the event this season amongst Canadian athletes. Transfer from DII school Edinboro (PA) this year. Earned All-American honors in XC this past season (fall 2021).

– Abbe Goldstein: Qualified as 21st seed in the 1500m. From Ambler, Pa. Graduate transfer from Harvard this year. 
– Adva Cohen: Qualified as the 14th seed in the 3000m steeplechase. From Jerusalem, Israel. Has the fastest time in the event amongst Israeli athletes this season and fastest by an Israeli athlete all-time. 

– Elise Thorner: Qualified as the ninth seed in the 3000m steeplechase. From Langport, England. Has the third best time in the event by a UK athlete this season, fastest in U23 UK history and ninth fastest in NCAA collegiate history. 

– Gracelyn Larkin: Qualified as 16th seed in the 5K. From Rosseau, Ontario. Has the second-best time this season and 23rd all-time time by a Canadian athlete in the event. Earned All-American honors in XC and first-team All-American in the indoor 5K.

– Jovahn Williamson: Qualified as 14th seed in the 400m dash and 4x400m relay (18th seed). A personal-best time of 45.39 was the second-fastest in UNM and Mountain West history (fastest by a Lobo in 59 years). From Dix Hills, NY and is a grad transfer from Harvard. 

– Rivaldo Leacock: Qualified as ninth seed in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay (18th seed). From St. George, Barbados and is a grad transfer from South Carolina. Has the fastest time by a Bajan athlete this season and second-most all-time. Broke a school record of 44 years in the event at the MW Championships and then defeated his own record at the NCAA Regionals, which is also fourth fastest in MW history. 

– Jevon O’Bryant: Qualified in the 4x400m relay (18th seed). From Houston, Texas and transferred in from Barton County Community College. 

– Victor Akhalu: Qualified in the 4x400m relay (18th seed). From Nigeria and transferred in from New Mexico JUCO.