UTEP hosts track meet under the lights


Andres Martinez

The UTEP track and field team will host the Twilight track meet on Friday, May 1 at Kidd Field.

Juan Carlos Navarrete, Staff Reporter

With the track and field season coming to an end, UTEP will host its third track meet of the year on Friday, May 1 at Kidd Field. The Twilight Meet will be the Miners’ final competition before the Conference USA Outdoor Championships.

The Miners will be using this meet as a final warm up before the conference championships. It’s the perfect opportunity for the athletes to keep improving, even for those who have already qualified for nationals.

For the coaches, it’s one of the final times they can test their athletes.

“Many of our seniors have not performed to their full potential,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “They have a chance to prepare and perform like they did last year.”

This will be the first time in 10 years the Twilight Meet will be hosted at UTEP. It features just two schools besides UTEP, along with some unattached athletes who will also participate. The University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University will be in town taking the Battle of I-10 and I-25 to the track.

The smaller number of schools participating, in comparison to other competitions, is something Laaksonen said he welcomes.

“It’s easier when it’s not six to 10 schools,” Laaksonen said. “It will just be us against them.”

The meet provides fans an opportunity to witness world-class athletes compete up close and personal.

Many, like Anthony Rotich, have aspirations to one day compete in the Olympics. Rotich just finished running the mile in less than four minutes at the Brutus Hamilton Challenge this past Saturday. He clocked in at 3:59.93 and will be competing on Friday.

Rotich has already qualified for the national competition, but will be in action as he continues to prepare for the season’s crucial stretch. He, along with fellow Miner Cosmas Boit, will compete in the mile.

The Twilight Meet will also provide some novelty for Rotich. He is planning to compete in the 800-meter race for the first time in his career—just for fun, something he has had in mind ever since he started wearing the orange and blue.

“I wanted to challenge my teammates who run the 800,” Rotich said. “This might be the last opportunity to run it, I just want to run with them.”

There are other attractions besides UTEP’s spectacular distance runners.

Rasmus Maokonen is another name to highlight. The freshman javelin thrower had an impressive showing the last time the Miners competed at Kidd Field. He won the event two weeks ago getting within a meter of his personal best, he could break that record at the Twilight Meet.

Relays could also be a highlight for fans as both the men’s and women’s relay teams have been producing well. The 4×400 men’s team, made up of Robert Camacho, James Bias, Abiola Onakoya and A-Shawni Mitchell, is coming off a first-place finish at the Brutus Hamilton Challenge.

The Twilight Meet is named because it starts significantly later than the rest of the track meets that UTEP hosts throughout the year. Instead of starting in the morning, the meet will kick off at 2 p.m. with field events. Running will not start until 6 p.m., sending the meet well into the night.

The track meet under the lights is something fans do not get a chance to experience very often.

“The running is going to start at six o clock,” Laaksonen said. “The sun is practically down, the lights are on, it’s a different feel to the meet.”

After a poor turnout at UTEP’s last home track meet, where weather could have played a major role, the Miners are hoping for plenty of support.

UTEP will have some of its best athletes on the track, and a palpable home-field advantage may help in maximizing their performance.

Laaksonen hopes all UTEP Miners will make it out to Kidd Field to attend a great athletic event for the family.

“It’s a perfect time for a meet,” Laaksonen said. “If you’re ever going to go see a meet, now is the time.”

Juan Carlos Navarrete can be reached at [email protected]