Track earns 7th place at Texas A&M Invitational

"Coaches are fairly pleased with the competition. We competed against some talented teams..." - Mika Laaksonen, head coach.


Javier Cortez / The Prospector

UTEP medley relay dominated at the Texas A&M Invitational en route to a seventh place finish overall.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

Even though the UTEP men’s and women’s track and field team finished in seventh place overall, the Miners showed individually just how good they are at one of the nation’s biggest stages, the Texas A&M Invitational, which took place Feb. 8-9.

After day one, the men’s team met a talented field from UCLA, Baylor and LSU, and the Miners’ strong suit came through. The distance medley squad, made up of freshman Cosmas Boit, junior Abiola Onakoya, sophomore Daniel Tarango and junior All-American Anthony Rotich, performed well.

Rotich won the day when he regained the Miners’ lead and secured the distance medley win. Overall, the Miners ran a 9.37.31, which is the third-fastest time in Miner history, and currently ranks them eighth in the nation and first in Conference USA.

Junior Elphas Maiyo continued the Miners’ success by winning the 5,000-meter run. The win was Maiyo’s first of the season.

While the Miners had great success, it was not enough to hold off powerhouse Texas A&M. The Aggies swept both the men’s and women’s invitational titles.

“Coaches are fairly pleased with the competition,” head coach Mika Laaksonen said. “We competed against some talented teams and still had athletes make impressive marks. We still have one more meet before the conference championship, so our focus will be on getting a few individuals to perform better, but I think most of them will get there by the time it counts.”

By the end of the meet, there were many Miners who stood out amongst the many talented teams at College Station.

Sophomore Nickevea Wilson won the women’s triple jump. Senior sprinter Janice Jackson finished second in the 60-meters with hurdles. Along with winning the men’s distance medley, Boit won the men’s one-mile race and senior Mark Jackson set a meet record in the men’s long jump with 7.61 meters.

In the past, the women’s track and field team garnered more of the spotlight with four-time All-American Risper Kimaiyo, Olympic bronze medalists Blessing Okagbare and Oludamola Osayomi.

This year it’s been the men’s team that has taken that spotlight and ran with it. Starting the season ranked 22nd in the country, the men now find themselves as 13th in the country and are being led by Rotich, who won the national title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase last year.

With the good results this past week at College Station, there is a buzz about UTEP track once again.

“I think people notice us,” senior sprinter Mark Jackson said. “In order for us to be a serious threat though, we’re going to actually have to come with it at the national meet for people to actually open their eyes and notice that UTEP is here, which we are.”

Before the NCAA indoor championships, the Miners still have some work to do. This week the Miners will be heading to Albuquerque, N.M., for the Don Kirby Track and Field Elite Invitational. Once the Miners have finished the two-day competition, they will finish the month of February by heading into the Conference USA Indoor Championships at Birmingham, Ala.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]