Runners make progress before conference championships


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Junior distance runner Anthony Rotich set the 11th fastest time on the nation at Husky Classic

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

It seems that wherever UTEP track and field goes, they find success. The men and women both had success in Seattle, Wash. at the Husky Classic and the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. on Feb. 14-15.

The distance runners competed in the Husky Classic while the rest of the team participated in the Kirby Invitational.

Right before the start of the weekend invitational, the men’s track and field team moved up one spot to 12th in the nation. The Miners proved that they were deserving of a top 15 ranking from long distance to sprinting.

Junior All-American Anthony Rotich continued his success with a season best 7 minutes and 56.60 seconds in the men’s 3,000-meter. The time of 7:56.60 is the 11th fastest time in the nation. Freshman Cosmas Boit followed with a time of 8 minutes, 5.60 seconds, which ranks second in Conference USA.

“Everyone was 100 percent focused,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “It was our (best and) last meet before the Conference USA Championships.”

In the 200-meter dash, junior Abiola Onakoya and senior Mark Jackson finished 11th and 16th respectively out of 67 competitors. Jackson also finished fourth in the men’s long jump invitational, while sophomore Brandon Moss finished third in the men’s long jump.

As for the women, junior Ana-Kay James took second in the women’s Section C 60-meter dash with a time of 7.67 seconds, which is a personal best. In the 200-meter dash, senior Janice Jackson and freshman Florence Uwakwe both finished in the top 10 out of 54 competitors.

Junior Greta Kerekes won the women’s Section C 60-meter hurdles with a season best time of 8.60 seconds. In the women’s long jump Nickevea Wilson finished ninth and fifth in the women’s triple jump. In total four Miners finished inside the top 20 in the women’s triple jump.

In the last event of the meet, the women’s 4×400 relay team composed by Janice Jackson, freshman Aiyanna Stiverne, Uwakwe and Anna-Kay James finished first in the second heat and fifth overall with a personal best time of 3 minutes, 42.27 seconds. The clocked time was the fastest in Conference USA.

Overall the Miners concluded with a combined seven personal and season best times at the Don Kirby Invitational, a good sign heading into the second most important meet of the indoor season — the Conference USA Indoor Championships.

“The team used (this meet) as motivation. We still have to go back to practice to work on a few things but I was happy with everyone’s effort,” Laaksonen said.

The Miners will have two weeks to prepare for the Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala. On Feb 28-March 1. Going into the meet, the Miners will be among favorites in many individual races, but from a team stand point as well. The men’s team are the only nationally ranked team in Conference USA.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]