Miners prepare for domination

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Miners prepare for domination

Junior All-American Anthony  Rotich has dominated the opening half of the Miners 2014 cross country season.

Junior All-American Anthony Rotich has dominated the opening half of the Miners 2014 cross country season.

PHOTO COURTESY OF UTEP ATHLETICS

Junior All-American Anthony Rotich has dominated the opening half of the Miners 2014 cross country season.

PHOTO COURTESY OF UTEP ATHLETICS

PHOTO COURTESY OF UTEP ATHLETICS

Junior All-American Anthony Rotich has dominated the opening half of the Miners 2014 cross country season.

Javier Cortez, Sports Editor

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On Sept. 26, the UTEP men’s and women’s cross country team will compete in a 5K run at the annual Lori Fitzgerald Classic, at Chamizal National Park.

Coming into the Miners only home invitational, it has been nothing but success from a team and individual standpoint. The Miners found success right from the beginning of the season, with an impressive showing in the Texas Tech/New Mexico State Dual Meet on Aug. 29.

In the men’s four-mile run, junior All-American Anthony Rotich, junior Elphas Maiyo and sophomore Evans Kiprono took first, second and third place respectively. On the women’s side, five Miners finished inside the top 25, with freshman Joan Jepkirui taking second place. The Miners left Ruidoso, New Mexico, with the men winning the team title and the women finishing third.

The Miners continued their success at the Lobo Invitational on Sept. 6.  The men once again won their team title by defeating the No.17 nationally ranked New Mexico Lobos, and the underclassmen from the women’s team finished with top 15 finishes.

In the Miners’ last meet on Sept. 20. at the Kachina Classic in Las Cruces the Miners once again proved their dominance. For the third consecutive meet, the men’s team took home first place, and Rotich won his third consecutive meet.

Coming off a successful outdoor season for the UTEP men’s track and field team, Rotich has not lost a step. The Kenya native was rewarded Conference USA Athlete of the Week as well as National Athlete of the Week by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

UTEP cross country head coach Paul Ereng has been nothing short of modest about the Miners’ early season success, only asking for more improvement as the season has gone on. After the Miners’ dominating season-opening meet, Ereng, called for
more improvement.

“This was a very good opener for the men’s team, and the women’s team also did well by placing two ladies in the top 10,” Ereng said in a press release. “However, we still need improvement from everyone on our team to continue our success.”

As the weeks have passed and the success continued, Ereng, kept the rhetoric of improving after the Miners finished up at the Kachina Classic.

“Both teams showed some good improvement, but we still need to work hard to get everyone close together,” Ereng said in a press release.

Going off the Miners’ impeccable form and past year results, the men and women’s team will be the overwhelming favorites going into the Lori Fitzgerald Classic. Over the past decade, the Miners have either won the team titles or have won individual titles. 

Rotich, dating back to his freshman year in 2012, has won the men’s race every year and is going for his third consecutive win. The win would put him in the company with 2012 alumni, All-American Risper Kimaiyo, who won four consecutive titles at the Lori Fitzgerald Classic.

Although Rotich is the premier performer on the men’s side, his teammates also can boast about their impressive resumes coming into the late September meet. Cosmas Boit and Maiyo were both named All-C-USA First-Team Honorees last year as underclassmen.

On the women’s side, Joan Jepkirui is leading the pack with a solid showing at the Miners’ three previous meets, and senior El Pasoan Laura Delgado will compete in the meet for her fourth and final time, looking to improve on her top-10 finish from last year.

“We have had four weeks of solid training since the beginning of the season and the men have performed well,” Ereng said in a press release. “Our concern this weekend is to see how much we need to do before we head to the Chili Pepper Festival at Arkansas in early October.”

The athletes, coaches and venues might change at the Lori Fitzgerald Classic, but the results stay the same, with the Miners dominating.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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