Getting in the groove ahead of UTEP Invitational

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Getting in the groove ahead of UTEP Invitational

Cornell Horn sprints during the UTEP Springtime meet on March 22.

Cornell Horn sprints during the UTEP Springtime meet on March 22.

Tania Moran

Cornell Horn sprints during the UTEP Springtime meet on March 22.

Tania Moran

Tania Moran

Cornell Horn sprints during the UTEP Springtime meet on March 22.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

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I want to see big competition and I want to see redemption because at our first meet we were a little shaky…”

— Aisha Lee

After some stiff competition on the road for the past two weeks, the UTEP men’s and women’s track and field team will be back home for the annual UTEP Invitational.

In late March and early April the Miners have had strong showings at the coveted Texas Relays and Texas Tech Open. The UTEP men’s distance running team found success at Austin and Lubbock.

After a setting one of the best times in the nation in the men’s 1500-meter run at the UTEP Springtime meet, freshman Cosmas Boit set a freshman record at the Texas Relays with a time of 4 minutes, 5.84 seconds. Boit will compete in the 800-meter run as well as the 1500-meter run in the UTEP Invitational.

“I want everybody to get to the UTEP Invitational healthy,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “This is our big home event so we are really hoping to have a good showing.”

Along with Boit, fellow distance runners senior Elkana Rotich, freshman Evans Kiprono, and junior Elphas Maiyo will look to follow up their successes from Austin and Lubbock, respectively.

The biggest name on the board though is All-American Anthony Rotich. On April 1, Anthony Rotich claimed Conference USA Athlete of the Week for the first time this season. The junior posted a time of 8:38.68 in the men’s steeplechase at the Texas Relays, which happens to be the fastest time in the nation.

Anthony Rotich also competed with and beat his college cohorts, as well as professional runner Matt Cleaver at Austin in the men’s steeplechase.

As opposed to the men’s distance runners, senior sprinter Mark Jackson will be one of the favorites to win the men’s 100-meter dash, as well as sophomore Sven Zellner in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. Both sprinters posted top 10 finishes in the Texas Tech open.

On the women’s side, senior All-American Janice Jackson will look to improve on her results after a strong showing at the Texas Relays. Jackson finished fifth in the women’s 100-meter hurdles out of 83 competitors. Jackson will also compete in the 100-meter dash, as well as the sprinting relays at the UTEP invitational.

Just like Jackson’s success in the women’s 100-meter hurdles in Austin, the Miners duplicated that success in Lubbock as a whole. Five Miners finished in the top nine in the women’s 100-meter hurdles, and junior Anna-Kay James took second with a time of 13.38.

“I want to see big competition and I want to see redemption because at our first meet we were a little shaky and I want to have more positive feedback,” said discus/weight thrower Aisha Lee.

Other Miners in the hunt are All-Conference performers junior Nickevea Wilson, freshman Aiyanna Stiverne, junior Jallycia Pearson and sophomore Brianna McGhee.

The biggest standout among the women is freshman Florence Uwakwe. Uwakwe started the spring season strong with a first-place finish in the UTEP Springtime Invitational. With the time of 52.79 seconds, Uwakwe ran the nation’s fastest time in the women’s 400-meter dash.

Uwakwe was also part of the women’s 4×400-meter relay team, which set their fastest time of the year at the Texas Relays with a time of 3 minutes and 35.90 seconds.

The men and women’s squad will look to use the UTEP Invitational as a springboard of success for the rest of the reason. For the men, the yearly homecoming will be another outlet to improve on their national ranking from the indoor season.

As for the women, the UTEP Invitational will be another meet to show the individual prowess of their All-Americans and All-Conference performers. More importantly, they hope to ultimately have team success.

“We want have a good number of spectators, of course it always helps and people feed off that kind of stuff, so the more spectators the better,” Laaksonnen said. “I think they are going to start selling beer at the meet like in basketball games, so maybe that will help get more people here.”

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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