July 20, 2013
University of New Mexico Lobos - 2012-13 Season Review
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Really, it was a typical season for the University of New Mexico.
The Lobos had teams roar into the Top 10 rankings, win Mountain West titles and advance to NCAA play. There were Coaches of The Year, Athletes of The Year, conference champions, Players of The Week --- well, the usual stuff that you expect from New Mexico athletics.
But let's make sure the student-athlete part of Lobo athletics gets highlighted, too, because often the Lobos' success in the classroom is overlooked by Lobo fans and the media, who naturally come to watch the Lobos play games.
This is stunning: The University of New Mexico had 138 2012-13 Mountain West Scholar-Athletes (3.5 GPA or higher), 54 more than the second-place school. UNM had 97 MW Scholar-Athletes a year ago.
The Lobos also led the MW by posting league highs in 11 sports: baseball, football, men's golf, women's golf, men's soccer, women's soccer, softball, women's swimming and diving, men's tennis, men's track & field and women's track & field.
The Lobos also ruled the Mountain West with student-athletes on the Academic All-Mountain West Team (3.0 GPA or higher) with 163 named to that elite list. The Lobos had 148 in 2011-12 losing out to Boise State a year ago. Yep, there is a new King and Queen of the Mountain West classrooms.
The message here is simple enough: You come to the University of New Mexico and you have a great opportunity to succeed in the classroom and on the fields and courts of competition. The students in the UNM athletic department continue to post GPAs higher than the UNM student body.
UNM also had a perfect season in APR as all sports went above the 930 standard the NCAA sets for APR.
"The university and the athletic department are extremely proud of the efforts of our student-athletes in the classroom," said Paul Krebs, UNM's Vice President for Athletics. "At UNM, it is expected that our student-athletes show dedication and hard work in competition and in their pursuit of a degree.
"The academic success, just like athletic success, also is a reflection of our coaches and our dedicated support staff at UNM."
Now, on to the games.
It's obvious that UNM emphasizes education and degrees in the athletic department. It's also a department that emphasizes balance among athletic programs and that balance was shown as New Mexico finished 51st in the nation in the final Learfield Sports Director's Cup standings.
Let's put this placement in perspective:
New Mexico was the top Mountain West school in the final standings.
New Mexico was No. 3 among non-BCS schools and only one of four schools in the Top 52 not in a BCS conference.
You don't crack the Top 52 by not advancing into NCAA play or by not winning league titles. The Lobos had their share of championship rings to order.
The Lobos were league champions in men's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's indoor track & field, men's golf, men's basketball and baseball -- and all of those championship teams were represented in NCAA play.
The Lobos had a Mountain West Conference Male Athlete of The Year in baseball's DJ Peterson, who added that honor to the MW Baseball Player of The Year award he shared with teammate Mitch Garver. Peterson joined Lobo Tony Snell (basketball) and Blake Smith (soccer) as first-round picks in the professional drafts of their sports.
Fredrik Landstedt's ski team missed its bid to reach the NCAA podium in 2013, but UNM did get a national championship from Joonas Rasanen in the men's slalom. Rasanen became the 26th Lobo (all sports) to win a national title.
Here's a quick summary of New Mexico teams that won 2012-13 Mountain West titles:
Men's Soccer: In the fall season, UNM got league title from Jeremy Fishbein's soccer program which began the season with a No. 2 national ranking and rolled to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular-season title and into the NCAA wars. UNM finished 17-4-1 behind seniors Blake Smith, Devon Sandoval, Victor Rodriguez, Levi Rossi, Travis Campbell and Nik Robson.
Cross Country: Joe Franklin's cross country teams pulled off their fourth consecutive "combined" sweep in men's and women's Mountain West finals. Lacey Oeding was the MW Female Cross Country Athlete of The Year and Luke Caldwell took the men's trophy.
Men's Golf: Glenn Millican's men's golf team came from out of the pack to win the MW title with Millican picking up Coach of Year honors and James Erkenbeck grabbing Player of Year honors. The team advanced to the Elite Eight at the NCAA Championships and won a regional title behind Erkenbeck's individual crown.
Men's Basketball:The Lobo men's basketball team pulled a double in the Mountain West race by winning the regular-season title and backing that up with a Mountain West Tournament title in Las Vegas. Kendal Williams was the MW Player of The Year and Snell was the MW tourney MVP. Steve Alford was Coach of The Year. The season ended with Craig Neal being named the head coach for 2013-14 and Snell drifting off to the NBA, bypassing his senior season as a Lobo.
Baseball:The Lobos added another spring MW title from Ray Birmingham's baseball team which won the league's regular-season crown and helped UNM in the Learfield race by pushing into postseason play. The Lobos picked up MW Player of the Year honors from DJ Peterson and Mitch Garver, who shared the award.
Indoor Track: Joe Franklin added another Mountain West trophy to his bulging trophy case as his Lobo men won the 2013 MW Indoor title behind 15 All-MW selections. Franklin was the MW Indoor Men's Coach of Year.
The success of 2012-13 creates excitement for the 2013-14 season that isn't that far away. The first two events on next season's schedule are an Aug. 16 women's soccer exhibition and a Aug. 17 men's soccer game with Grand Canyon. Volleyball opens Aug. 24 with an exhibition and football has a home opener on Aug. 31 vs. UTSA.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.