Miners get top finishes at UTEP Invitational


Michaela Roman

Distance runner Anthony Rotich runs in the 1500-meters, followed by teammate Cosmas Boit. Rotich and Boit placed first and second, respectively, at the April 12 meet.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

The Miners’ men’s and women’s track and field team dominated the competition from start to finish at the UTEP Invitational.

The meet featured stiff competition from Louisiana Tech, Rice and North Texas. Olympians Mickael Hanany and Olympic gold medalist Kirani James were among the professionals who successfully competed in the invitational.

Junior All-American Anthony Rotich stood out amongst the athletes. The NCAA champion set the second-fastest time in the nation with 3 minutes, 42.55 seconds in the 1500-meter run. The time is Rotich’s personal best, but the event  is not in his sights for the NCAA championships.

“I feel great, but I was not expecting to run this time,” Rotich said. “It was a great race, but I am only doing the 1500 to put in speed work for the steeplechase. I want to defend my title against the best at the NCAA championships this year.”

Among others to have success in the mid-distance events was freshman Cosmas Boit, who placed second in the 1500-meters. Sophomore Daniel Tarango took first in the 800-meter run and junior Robert Camacho took second in the 400-meter hurdles.

Two-time Olympian and former Miner Mickael Hanany was once again in attendance as he set the meet standard with a high-jump of 2.36 meters. All in all, Hanany was happy to be back home and see his fellow Miners compete.

“It is always good for me to jump here,” Hanany said. “This is where I trained, so I know the track by heart and it is always good for me to jump here in front of the crowd. As far as helping the guys, I like doing that. Giving little tips that I know will help and I try to help out the youngsters, so overall I enjoyed it.”

On the women’s side, it was a dominant day from the field events to the track events. Freshman Florence Uwakwe and senior Janice Jackson took first and second, respectively, in the 200-meter dash. Miner alumni and Olympian Endurance Abinuwa took second in the 400-meter dash.

Janice Jackson took first in the 100-meter hurdles and three other Miners finished inside the top seven. Junior Anna-Kay James took second in the 400-meter hurdles. In the relays, the women took first in the 4 x 100 and second in the 4 x 400.

In the field events, All-American Nickevea Wilson won the triple jump, and junior Taylor Gunn won the hammer throw, as did freshman Fayon Gonzales with the javelin throw.

“We had a really good start and everyone competed really hard,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “This was a much better meet than the Texas Tech meet, Texas Relays and the first meet here (UTEP Springtime).”

The only competition the Miners faced was the steadily increasing wind. By the last four events, the wind was up to 25 miles per hour and hampered most of the events in the second half of the day.

“Everything was going fine until the wind started to pick up,” Laaksonen said. “It was very strong and it started disturbing things. The wind was really irritating and some people would have had better times if the wind allowed them to.”

All in all, Laaksonen was happy with the results and is optimistic about the Miners’ chances at the Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

“I believe we have a good chance at the conference championships with these results,” Laaksonen said. “In the past weeks, I was really concerned with a couple of things, but across the board it was a great effort today. I think the men and women really want to do something special at the conference championships.”

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]