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UTEP cross country preparing for a new season

Flor Flore/The Prospector
Five different students participated in the teams’ tryouts on Aug. 30 at Kidd Field.

The UTEP cross country team is about to open their season, and the coaching staff held tryouts for the team on Aug. 30 seeking to build a more competitive team.

Led by head coach Paul Ereng, gold medalist at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, the cross country team will try to repeat its recent success. Coach Ereng has the Miner squad reinvigorated following a tremendously successful showing at the 2012 NCAA Championships, with members from both the men’s and women’s team each finishing in the top five.

For the fourth time in Conference USA history, one program took home both men’s and women’s cross country Athlete of the Year Award, The honors went to UTEP All-Americans Risper Kimaiyo, who graduated from UTEP in May, and sophomore Anthony Rotich. In his first year, Rotich was the first freshman to cross the finish line last year and he finished fourth with a time of 29 minutes, 17.5 seconds in the 10,000-meter run.

“The only bad thing is when you do that well, everybody expects super performances,” Ereng said.
With Kamaiyo gone, the women’s team is in a rebuilding mode, and Ereng said that they are still a year away from their target goal. Coach Ereng recently had tryouts for hopeful walk-ons.

“We are trying to open the team as much as we can,” Ereng said. “We want to bring whoever is available that can contribute to the team.”

With the Conference USA Championships taking place in November, Ereng is preparing his runners for a physically demanding season.

“I want them to get the training going. Cross country is a very strained event because the season is so sudden,” Ereng said. “Two weeks after school begins and the team will be competing, I’m trying to get the team in good shape for conference.”

“My first game as a collegiate football player was against New Mexico, at New Mexico, so it’s really exciting to be part of this rivalry; it’s going to be an exciting time for true UTEP fans.”

While UTEP is in a great position to compete this year, the talent in the conference is just as tough. Tulsa is always a lead candidate to win the national championship; they come in with a top-five ranking to begin the running season.

“Tulsa has always been our nemesis, they are very competitive,” Ereng said. “The conference has added competition with schools such as FIU and North Texas joining the conference.”

Rotich is the obvious favorite to shine this season, as he’s coming off winning the 2012 Conference USA Male Athlete of the Year Award. However, Rotich will have a strong supporting cast running beside him.

“Soloman (Gardea) was injured last year, but the year before, he was a very good athlete for us,” Ereng said. “We are excited to have him back.”

The other members who competed last year for the men’s team, Ramon Garcia and Elphas Maiyo, are seeking to have strong 2013 campaigns.

“The main team last year was Anthony. I’m trying to work to make the team come together and win conference,” Ereng said. ”The runners need to adapt to the strenuous running, which can take between six to eight weeks to prepare.”

This season, the Miners are looking to add to an impressive trophy case. Since 1969, the Miners have won the cross country National Championship seven times and have come in second twice. They also had a four-peat from 1978-81.

UTEP will open their 2013 season Sept. 7 at the Lobo Invitational hosted by the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Luis Barrio may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Luis Barrio
Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter
Luis Barrio is a staff reporter specializing in Sports. He is also the co-host of the Prospector News Weekly, a weekly broadcast that covers all of the top stories at UTEP. He is a Senior graduating in December 2014. Luis is a product of El Paso, TX. He enjoys being outdoors and being physically active. His family comes before anything else. He is a big sports enthusiast and a fan of good movies. Luis spent the summer of 2013 interning for ABC-7 KVIA. Upon graduation Luis aspires to work for CBS as a sports broadcaster. “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever a having felt sorry for itself.” D.H. Lawrence
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UTEP cross country preparing for a new season