Track and field continue strong start at MLK meet

Photo+courtesy+of+UTEP+Athletics

Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

The UTEP Men’s and Women’s track and field team had a stellar showing at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, several athletes managed to outperform not just other competitors but also their personal bests. 

Standing out was junior sprinter Niesha Burgher who set a school record in the 200-meter dash; Burgher transferred from Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas. Before the MLK Invitational, Burgher’s personal best in the 200-meter dash was 23.79 which was set just a week earlier at the Texas Tech Corky Classic. At the MLK Invitational, Burgher’s time was 23.20. This performance places Burgher at the top of Conference USA (C-USA) and eighth nationally. 

Sophomore sprinter and hurdler Loubna Benhadja recorded a personal best in the 400-meter event after a 55.04 run beating the previous personal best of 55.06. This time places Benhadja atop C-USA after junior sprinter Oghenekaro Brume held the spot just a week earlier. Denae McFarlane also noted a personal best after running a 24.45 in the 200-meter beating her previous record of 24.64. This time placed McFarlane sixth at the MLK Invitational. 

Senior distance runner Yusuf Mohamud placed second in the 800-meter race with a time of 1:51.16, the C-USA best. This run shattered Mohamud’s previous personal best of 1:57.99 which was set at the Don Kirby Open & Elite in February 2022. Graduate student distance runner Daniel Bernal also placed second in the 3000-meter with a time of 8:34.14, which is the third best time in C-USA. Junior distance runner Ruth Jerubet placed second in her event after running a 5:02.47 mile. 

Kenneth Talavera senior distance runner won the mile with a time of 4:12.33. This places Talavera in the number one spot of C-USA. It is also Talavera’s third time placing first in the event.  

“I think it was a good second meet for both our women’s and men’s teams. It was a short turnaround from our first meet considering that Monday was a holiday and we only got three full days of practice leading up to this event,” said UTEP Head Coach Mika Laaksonen. “The women’s team outdid the men’s team this time around by setting 13 new personal records today and only one of them came in event that the individual had not competed in before. The men were close with 12 new personal bests, but seven of those came in events that the student-athletes competed in for the first time in UTEP uniform. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish then after an intense 10-day practice cycle.” 

The Miners will travel to Albuquerque, N.M. Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic at the Albuquerque Convention Center. 

All stats provided by UTEP Athletics. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram.