Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

C-USA Track Athlete of the Year

Photo courtesy UTEP Athletcis

Photo courtesy UTEP Athletcis

Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

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After finishing her first outdoor season in astonishing fashion, freshman hurdler Tobi Amusan was named the 2016 Conference USA Track Athlete of the Year. Amusan was honored with this prestigious award, voted on by C-USA track and field head coaches from around the conference.

“During the recruiting process, we were told that she is the ‘next Blessing Okagbare,’” head coach Mika Laaksonen said. “When this skinny little girl arrived at UTEP this January, it was kind of difficult to visualize her dominating her competitors the way Blessing did. Now, after her first season here, she has definitely made me a believer.”

Blessing Okagbare was the only athlete from UTEP to win the Conference USA Track Athlete of the Year since the university joined the league in 2006.

When Amusan arrived in January, she quickly made noise on the team and throughout the different meets. During the indoor season, she ran eight different 60-meter hurdle races and progressed in every one.

For the Conference USA Indoor Championships, she caught fire as she stormed to a gold medal. Amusan’s time in the hurdles was good enough for the third-best time in program history (8.23). At the indoor meet, she also placed seventh in long jump (5.84). In total, she contributed 12 points to the women’s side aiding them in repeating C-USA champions.

Amusan was now left to translate the success she enjoyed at indoor meets to the outdoor events.

In the 100-meter hurdles, she won every race of the regular season. During the C-USA Championships, she stole the gold and was named Freshman of the Meet. She also contributed the most points to the team in the outdoor championships, as she took first in the 100-meter hurdles, first in 200-meter dash (23.27) and second place in the long jump (6.06).

Arguably her most significant race this season was at the UTEP Invitational when Amusan clocked her best time of 12.83 seconds to take gold. Her time was good enough to surpass the program’s previous record time of 12.95. At the time it was the fourth-fastest time in the world and the second-fastest time by an athlete under 20 years old.

“Her achievement of running the second-fastest 100-meter hurdle time ever as a junior speaks volumes of Tobi’s abilities as an athlete,” Laaksonen said.

Then, she moved on to Eugene, Oregon, where she battled at the NCAA Championships for the prestigious crown.

Although in the preliminary runs she staggered a bit, Amusan picked herself up big time in the final round and took silver in the event with a time of 12.79.

“It has been a privilege to see how this young lady has opened up her career here at UTEP,” Laaksonen said. “Tobi is not only a great athlete, but an excellent student as well. We couldn’t have really asked for much more from a freshman student-athlete.”

Although the season is over, Amusan is not letting up on her training. She is now prepping for the IAAF World U20 Championships, which will be held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, from July 19-24.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at theprospector.sports@gmail.com.

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Assayer of Student Opinion.
C-USA Track Athlete of the Year