Miners qualify for NCAA West Preliminaries

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Miners qualify for NCAA West Preliminaries

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Mike Flores, Sports Editor

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The UTEP track and field team will be sending 16 student-athletes to compete in the NCAA West Preliminaries next weekend in Austin, Texas from May 25 to May 27.

Throughout the preliminaries, the top 12 athletes in each event will advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, which begins June 7 and wraps up June 10.

Fresh off the first ever outdoor title in program history, Lilian Koech (2:04.68) and Linda Cheruiyot (4:23.60) will represent UTEP’s women’s track and field in the 800-meter race. Koech and Cheruiyot’s event will kick off Thursday at 7:10 p.m. central time (CT).

Set to make her second appearance in the 100-meter hurdle since last year, UTEP’s standout sophomore Tobi Amusan (12.67) will begin her event at the west preliminaries at 3:30 p.m. CT. Last year in the preliminaries, Amusan earned herself an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships as she jumped her way to a first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdle heat.

Senior duo Ada Benjamin (52.87) and Florence Uwakwe (53.29) will compete in the 400-meter on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

UTEP’s duo of senior Yanique Bennett (58.57)–who took silver at the C-USA Championships–and sophomore Dreshanae Rolle (1:00.19) will compete in the 400-meter hurdles.

Sophomore long-distance runner Winny Koech (33:51.31) had an impressive conference meet as she brought the Miners gold in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter events. Koech is set to take the field for the 10,000-meter run in Austin.

The Miners’ back-to-back gold winner in the discus throw in the conference meet, senior Samantha Hall (55.17m) earned herself a spot in the competition.

The women’s 4×100-meter (44.81) relay team, along with the women’s 4×400-meter relay team will complete the two female relay teams that UTEP will be sending over to Austin for the competition.

One Miner already has her ticket punched to the NCAA Championship. Lucia Mokrasova will not compete in the NCAA Preliminaries due to there not being a qualifying round for the heptathlon. However, the top 24 athletes advance to the NCAA Championships, and Mokrasova ranks 12th in the nation from her 5,671 total points earned.

On the men’s side, UTEP will be sending two of their standout athletes, Jonah Koech (3:41.22) and Cosmas Boit (3:45.97), for the 1,500-meter run. Their race is set to start Thursday at 5 p.m.

UTEP’s freshman duo of All-Americans Emmanuel Korir (1:43.73) and Michael Saruni (1:45.82) ran their way to the 800-meter race in Austin. The freshmen will begin at 7:35 p.m.

Due to his time of 46.92 in the conference meet, junior Asa Guevara will race for the orange and blue in the 400-meter run. Guevara’s event will take place at 6:45 p.m.

Additionally, 18th-ranked Karol Koncos will be competing in the first NCAA West Prelims of his career. The freshman tossed his qualifying throw of 64.29 meters at the conference meet. His hammer throw event will start at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

UTEP’s lone men’s relay squad, the 4×400-meter relay team ranks 10th in the west region and will be put to the test in Austin.

Last season, 12 Miners headed to the west preliminaries, and four of them continued on to the 2016 NCAA Championships.

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