UNM Track & Field Facilities
The Great Friends of UNM Track & Field Stadium extend the use of their facilities located on UNM’s South Campus and welcomes Great Southwest Classic athletes. The track consists of an 8 lane (48″) all-weather surface. Inside the Track, a natural grass surface has multiple jump and throw areas.
The UNM track stadium seats 6,000 and faces the spectacular Sandia Mountain range. Nearly perfect training and racing conditions may be expected with May temperatures ranging from day highs of80 degrees to average evening lows of 49 with a relative humidity of 32%. Albuquerque’s mile-high elevation, abundant sunshine, create an exhilarating outdoor venue for spirited competition in UNM’s world class facilities.
UNM Track & Field Traditions
Championship NCAA track and field programs are not built overnight. They are constructed gradually, built upon a strong foundation of pride, tradition and a commitment to excellence. The University of New Mexico track and field program has built its winning legacy with the same championship formula.
Since 1930, New Mexico has produced 85 All-Americans, 15 NCAA champions, five Olympians and hundreds of conference champions. Among that large group of elite athletes are the stories of exceptional team and individual performances.
Performances like those turned in by the phenomenal 1965 track team, which was arguably the greatest team ever assembled at UNM. Under legendary coach Hugh Hackett, the Lobos never lost a meet that spring and asserted themselves as a national power with a stirring 93 1/3 to 46 2/3 upset of the University of Southern California at University Stadium in Albuquerque. New Mexico won every race on the track as they handed the mighty Trojans their first loss in three years and just their second defeat in 20 years.
New Mexico went on to capture its second consecutive conference championship before taking on the field at the NCAA Track and Field Championships. Clarence Robinson swept the long and triple jump to lead the Lobos to a fifth place finish, just 1/2 a point out of fourth and seven points out of first place. The next year, New Mexico finished 11th at the NCAA meet. Robinson’s school record of 26-9.25 in the long jump and the 400-meter relay team’s time of 39.84, both set in ’65, remain two of the oldest school records at UNM. Two years later, the 1967 New Mexico track team would also take fifth at the NCAA Championships after claiming its fourth straight WAC title. With its success throughout the 1960’s, New Mexico track and field established its pride and tradition of excellence that has remained with the program ever since.
In addition to the many team accomplishments, there were legendary individuals such as 1961 NCAA Champion and former world record holder Adolph Plummer and the unforgettable John Baker.
On May 25, 1963, the same year UNM hosted the 42nd NCAA Track and Field Championships at University Stadium, Plummer shocked the world in his final appearance wearing the New Mexico cherry and silver at the Western Athletic Conference Championships in Tempe, Ariz. Running the 440-yard dash in an elite field that included Arizona State University’s great Ulis Williams, a runner he had never beaten, Plummer had the kind of race most athletes can only dream of. In a 1984 interview in the Albuquerque Tribune, Plummer said the only things he remembered about the race was hearing the starter say ‘set,’ before hearing the gun fired. 44.9 seconds later, with Williams yards behind him, Plummer crossed the line to become the new world record holder in the 440. Plummer not only set the world record, but did so with amazing ease as his time shattered Glenn Davis’ five-year old world record of 45.7 by an astonishing eight tenths of a second. Though his 440-yard dash record was broken in 1969, Plummer’s legacy of greatness was entrenched forever in the history of UNM track and field. After 38 years, his adjusted time of 44.74 in the 400 meters remains UNM’s oldest existing school record. In the same Tribune article, Gwynn ‘Bub’ Henry, the father of current UNM track coaches Matt and Mark Henry, and legendary Lobo track and field coach Hugh Hackett remembered Plummer as a superhuman runner.
“Adolph Plummer was a colossus,” said Henry. “I can’t think of a better word than colossus…God, he could run.”
“We used to have 10,000 people at our meets – people used to come just to see him run,” said Hackett. “He could beat about anybody…he’d turn ’em around backwards.”
Perhaps the best known UNM track & field athlete of all-time was John Baker. Baker was one of the WAC’s premier mile runners in the mid-1960’s, but more importantly he was an extraordinary human being. Before cancer eventually claimed his life on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 1970, Baker devoted himself to helping children on and off the track.
Plummer and Baker’s stories are just two of many that embody the pride, tradition and commitment to excellence that the University of New Mexico track and field program was built upon. Men and women such as Buster Quist, Clarence Robinson, Charles Dramiga, Barbara Butler, Karen Crammond, Ibrahim Kivina, Carole Roybal, Lavern Clarke, Simon Arkell and many more have given their blood, sweat and tears to ensure New Mexico’s championship track and field legacy will never be forgotten.
Adolph Plummer (left) is shown as he crossed the
finish line at the 1963 WAC Championships in a world recordbreaking time of 44.9 in the 440-yard dash. Arizona State’s great Ulis Williams, who had never lost to Plummer, is shown trailing yards behind in the right foreground.
Hugh Hackett (left) was the University of New Mexico’s most successful track and field head coach. Under Hackett’s tutelage,
the UNM track and field program developed into a national powerhouse in the 1960’s and 70’s.
In a photograph that appeared on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday, April 4, 1965, John Baker holds up his fingers in the traditional victory sign as he crosses the finish line to upset a talented field of USC Trojans in the mile. Baker’s win propelled the Lobos to a shocking 98 1/3 to 46 2/3 dual meet victory over USC at University Stadium.
His enduring legacy was eventually captured in the short, award-winning film, John Baker’s Last Race., which premiered in 1976. Though he never achieved his dream of competing in the 1972 Olympics, Baker was simply a winner throughout his UNM track career. Perhaps the most memorable was his blazing kick which defeated Bruce Bess and a brilliant cast of Southern California milers on April 3, 1965, when New Mexico upset mighty USC in University Stadium.