Track and Field head to Conference USA Indoor Championships

Sophomore+Aiyanna+Stivierne+has+the+best+ranking+400m+dash+time+in+Conference+USA.

Michaela Roman

Sophomore Aiyanna Stivierne has the best ranking 400m dash time in Conference USA.

Juan Carlos Navarrete, Staff Reporter

The UTEP track team continues its strong year as they arrive at the first of what they hope will be many important meets this season. After five meets, both the men and women’s teams will be in Birmingham, Ala., to compete in the Conference USA Indoor Championships from Feb. 25-26.

The UTEP women’s team will go into the championship with a good chance of winning it all.

“I am excited about our women’s team, everyone is doing good,” said head coach Mikka Laaksoen. “Everyone is okay. They are rested and last week they ran some of their best, so they can all do it.”

For the women, the opportunity to win the tournament would be the first in the history of UTEP teams. All the competitors will have to compete at their best as winning the conference title gives them a chance to compete at the national level.

Sophomore sprinter Aiyanna Stivierne will be looking to help the women’s team as she hopes to build off her good performance last week. Competing in the Don Kirby Invitational, the Florida native finished the 400-m dash with an altitude-converted time of 53.64—which is best in the conference this year and third fastest in school history.

Stivierne’s outstanding performance in Albuquerque was rewarded with her being named the Conference USA Track Athlete of the Week.

Sophomore Cosmas Boit, from the men’s team, rounded out another dominant week for UTEP track and field, as he was also being named C-USA’s Track Athlete of the Week. It was the fourth consecutive week that a Miner from the men’s side has been given the weekly award.

Boit ran a personal best of 8:01.25 in the 3,000-m at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash. His time, eighth best in program history, placed him inside the top 15 of the event, which included some of the best runners in the nation—both amateur and professional.

The men’s team is going to try to do better than they did last week and try to qualify to nationals. The men’s team, however, has two of the best distance runners in the conference and will look to help to push the team forward.

“I am excited to run. I feel ready and after last week I feel ready to run,” Boit said.

Boit will also try to qualify for nationals in the mile run, where he will be running next to teammate and Cross Country Athlete of the Year in Conference USA, Anthony Rotich.

This will be the last Conference USA Indoor Championship for Rotich, who will be looking to defend his mile championship from last year. He has already qualified for the national championships, but this will serve as a chance to leave the conference as the fastest.

“He has competed greatly, he will try to defend his title and he most likely will,” Laeksonen said. “He can probably win with ease and defend his mile.”

Rotich is confident in his abilities and looking forward to defending his crown after getting off to a good start this season.

“I am excited because I have been running well,” Rotich said.

For Boit, having Rotich as a teammate helps him become a better runner. UTEP has the two best distance runners in the conference and a top-three place on the podium is likely for both runners.

“He makes me run better, he is always telling me I’m a good runner. If I can run as fast as him, it will make me better,” Boit said. “If I can run like him, it will be great because he is the best, he makes me run faster.”

Both the men and the women’s team have an opportunity to enjoy success this week at the conference championships. There are plenty of chances for UTEP to reach the podium and qualify for nationals, and end the season celebrating a win.

Juan Carlos Navarrete may be reached at [email protected]