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UNM's Habtom Samuel earns first team All-America honors in indoor 5,000, 3,000 meters

Mar. 9—Habtom Samuel, New Mexico track and field's freshman phenom, earned first-team All-America honors in the men's 5,000 and 3,000 meters this weekend at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Making his NCAA championships debut, Samuel's 13:30.07 in the 5,000 on Friday at The Track at New Balance in Boston was good for fourth while his 7:46.86 earned him a seventh place finish in the 3,000 on Saturday. Top eight finishers are automatically awarded first team All-America honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Northern Arizona's Nico Young — the collegiate record holder in the indoor 5,000 — won individual championships in the 5,000 (13:25.29) and 3,000 (7:41.01), setting a new meet record in the latter. North Carolina's Parker Wolfe earned second-place finishes in both events, running a 13:27.37 on Friday in the 5,000 and a 7:42.38 in the 3,000 on Saturday.

Samuel, the Mountain West champion and UNM program record holder in the indoor 5,000 (13:14.85) and 3,000 (7:45.61), consistently kept pace and ran toward the front of the pack in the national meet before Young's ferocious kick overtook the fields on Friday and Saturday. Young's efforts helped power NAU's men to a third-place finish in the team standings while Texas Tech won its first indoor team championship.

UNM's Evans Kiplagat placed 15th out of 16 runners in the 5,000 with a time of 13:46.41, earning USTFCCCA second team All-America honors. Samuel and Kiplagat were the Lobos' lone representatives at the indoor championships.

Samuel's fourth-place finish in the 5,000 is UNM's best individual finish at the NCAA indoor championships since 2018.

A native of Keren, Eritrea, Samuel previously earned first team All-America honors after a second-place finish (28:40.7) at the 2023 NCAA Division I cross country championships in Charlottesville, Va. Samuel was also named the Mountain West Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Year in light of his record-breaking 22:57.57 at the Mountain West Cross Country Championships to help the Lobos win their first men's title since 2014.

UNM opens its outdoor track and field season by hosting the New Mexico Spring Invitational on March 23. The Lobos host only one other outdoor meet this season — the Don Kirby Tailwind Open on April 19.