NCAA Track & Field

Top 200m sprinter Lauren Rain Williams ditches USC, commits to Oregon

By Adele Jackson-Gibson Apr 11, 2017

Lauren Rain Williams, the nation’s current No. 1 200-meter sprinter, declared on Twitter Monday night that she has committed to…

NCAA Track & Field

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LSU’s Kymber Payne dominates Texas Relays

By Nick Forrester Apr 2, 2017

LSU's Kymber Payne dominated the Texas Relays over the weekend. At the big track meet in Austin, which annually features…

Amherst men’s cross country suspended over “racist, misogynist and homophobic messages”

By Celia Balf Dec 12, 2016

  The president and athletic director suspended the Amherst's men's cross country team over "racist, misogynist, and homophobic messages." The…

Four-time NCAA champion Molly Seidel will return to Notre Dame for last year of eligibility

By Kayla Lombardo Oct 20, 2016

Four-time NCAA champion Molly Seidel will return to Notre Dame to compete in her last year of collegiate track and field…

NCAA Track & Field British invasion: How New Mexico won the NCAA XC crown

University of New Mexico track and cross country coach Joe Franklin has started a British invasion. Last month, the Lobos stormed into Louisville and won their first-ever NCAA title with the lowest team score since 1982. The key to the Lobos’ success? A pipeline of talented runners from the United Kingdom. Before he came to New Mexico in 2007, where he’s the head men’s and women’s track and cross country coach, Franklin held the same positions at Butler University for 13 years. It was at Butler, that, as he tells it, he “took a chance” on a British runner. Fast forward to 2015, and four of the Lobos top five girls at the NCAA finals hail from the UK, with eight total runners from across the pond on the New Mexico roster. That didn’t happen overnight, as Franklin’s recruiting of UK runners grew organically over the years. And as his program’s profile grew, he continued to tap the same reservoir of runners.   “Word of mouth goes a long, long way,” he says, laughing. “It just started at Butler and then it just kind of manifested and evolved after that. I've had kids that have said ‘Hey you know I want to come here because there's other Brits here.’” [caption id="attachment_315" align="alignnone" width="640"]Calli Thackery runs at the NCAA XC Championships. (Mike Mulcahy/UNM Athletics) Calli Thackery runs at the NCAA XC Championships. (Mike Mulcahy/UNM Athletics)[/caption] Calli Thackery, a senior who finished 15th overall at NCAAs, agreed. “Coach Franklin has definitely got a good reputation,” she says. “I heard about his coaching from several people, both current athletes at the time, and some of his former athletes reached out to me. His track record was definitely a big influence on my decision to come out here.” The Higher Education Act 2004 certainly sped up the influx of UK athletes joining the NCAA’s ranks. Before 1998, higher education was free in the United Kingdom. The Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 changed that, requiring students to pay an upfront fixed fee for classes. In 2004, the fixed rate was ditched for a more broad, and for some students, costly, rate. “So 10 years ago, a student could go to university in the UK and you would not pay any tuition or fees. It was government supported,” Franklin explains. “Over the last few years they've now created tuition and fees, where students are having to pay those. Where before they didn't.” The fees coupled with the UK’s lack of an athletic system like the NCAA—everything is club based—left many runners looking for opportunities overseas. And that movement dovetailed with the internet, which revolutionized recruiting at home and especially abroad. “Things are just more accessible with the internet,” Franklin says. “Before we would do it by sending hard letters 20 years ago. Now, the kid who is sitting in his home in Manchester has 300 opportunities to go to school in the U.S. Where before, just because it wasn't as accessible, you'd probably have to call a coach at home.” Thackery is a prime example of how the Internet assisted in her recruiting. “Seeing as most of the population have social media now, it is pretty easy to search a name and get in contact,” she says. “Most of my scholarship offers were via Facebook, they would reach out to me through there and then ask for my email address or phone number. Coach Franklin and I eventually used Skype as a means of contact, and this was great because it allowed us to talk on a more personal level. Looking back, Skype was the most efficient kind of communication.” [caption id="attachment_317" align="alignnone" width="640"]Alice Wright stays with the pack at the 2015 NCAA Championships. (Mike Mulcahy/UNM Athletics) Alice Wright stays with the pack at the 2015 NCAA Championships. (Mike Mulcahy/UNM Athletics)[/caption] Alice Wright, who finished 5th overall at NCAAs, spoke highly of Franklin’s recruiting approach. “My main memory of the recruitment process was receiving an e-mail from Joe,” she says. “I found this quite impressive as most coaches had got in touch via Facebook which made Joe’s offer sound a little more serious.” Franklin’s runners seem to legitimately admire him as both a coach and person. His friendly and professional approach to recruiting gives him a leg up on some of the seedier recruiters in college athletics. And the success—a number of Lobos, including Wright, have run for their respective countries at the international level—doesn’t hurt either. (Former Lobo Jarrin Solomon won bronze in the men’s 4x400 relay at the London Olympics for Trinidad and Tobago.) Now with his first national championship in the rearview, Franklin is intensely focused on the future. “Just continue to give kids an opportunity,” he cites as his main goal for the program. “Can you have kids make an Olympic team? Can you help get kids to that point, whether they're American or British or from some other place, can you give the kid an opportunity to make an Olympic team? In our sport, that's the ultimate goal.”

British invasion: How New Mexico won the NCAA XC crown

By Bill Bradley Dec 12, 2015

Eight runners on the Lobos roster come from the UK.