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Mircea Bogdan returns home to UTEP cross country

Iziah Moreno
Associate Head Cross Country Coach Mircea Bogdan and former student athlete has returned to UTEP.

Mircea Bogdan completed his first regular season as associate head coach of UTEP cross country, just ahead of the C-USA XC Championships Oct. 28. Bogdan reflected on the journey that led him to where he is now. 

Bogdan began his career at UTEP as a student-athlete where he was recruited by the current Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Mika Laaksonen. The Romanian native credits a friend for introducing him to the track and cross-country programs at UTEP.  

“I think it all started with my friend Adrianna; my friend who is also from Romania just like me,” Bogdan said. “So, we were coached by the same coach back home.”  

Bogdan was encouraged by his friend and his own drive to come to the United States and compete at the collegiate level. The program’s successful history enticed him to come and be a part of its legacy. 

“It wasn’t easy, it was a lot of work, a lot of things needed to connect and happen, but I was here,” Bogdan said. “Biggest thing was when I saw the history of this program I was like ‘Wow, I’m going somewhere cool, this program has been successful.’” 

Beginning his collegiate running career in 2003, Bogdan went on to win the 3000-meter steeplechase in 2005. Although he placed second in 2006, the steeplechase was the right event for Bogdan to excel in at the time. Distance runners are required to run longer distances compared to sprinters, so for these events, endurance plays a greater role than speed. 

“My whole life had been distance and middle distance, but mostly distance and cross country,” he said. “When it came to track, the steeplechase, outdoor track, was my main event. I didn’t have a lot of speed, but I had a good engine to put a lot of running under my belt, so I was healthy enough to support all that training.”  

After a successful running career, Bogdan received his bachelor of health science in kinesiology, applying what he learned to his first year as a coach. In 2006 Bogdan joined the UTEP coaching staff as a post-NCAA eligibility student coach. 

Bogdan continued his education at Saint Francis University, receiving his masters of education in May 2009. He returned to coaching at Loyola University-Chicago in 2014, as a volunteer assistant coach, then as assistant coach. 

Most recently Bogdan spent a year as the director of track and field/cross country at Chicago State during the 2022-2023 season. His return to UTEP marks 20 years since he first set foot on  campus since 2003.  

Bogdan credits the foundation he received through UTEP and his kinesiology degree for his success as both a runner and a coach. 

“Studying kinesiology at UTEP, it was almost like it filled the gap that I was missing,” Bogdan said. “By being an athlete, you miss some things, so I think studying what I studied, and my minor was education, helped me understand some more dynamics and more what’s happening inside the human body.” 

UTEP affected Bogdan in a big way, influencing him to return as a coach and give back to the community that got him to where he is today. Because of this influence, Bogdan hopes current student-athletes can follow his example and someday return to UTEP to continue its rich history in athletics. 

“Take advantage of the opportunity that you join a great program, contribute, maybe help somebody else,” Bogdan said. “After you leave, come back and keep the program running. This program should never stop having success.” 

Nicholas Maes is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Nicholas Maes
Nicholas Maes, Editor-in-Chief
Nicholas Maes is the editor-in-chief for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in history with a minor in commercial music. He plans to continue his academic career in history after earning his bachelor's degree.
Iziah Moreno
Iziah Moreno, Photo Editor
Iziah Moreno is the photo editor for The Prospector. He is a freshman majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in marketing. After graduation, he hopes to work in the world of photojournalism and media.
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