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UTEP Sports Recap: Track & Field places second at C-USA championships

Joel Molina
Freshman Alla Parnov celebrates after a successful pole vault attempt.

UTEP’s Kidd Field hosted the C-USA Track and Field Championships May 10 through 12, and the Miners ultimately placed second for both the men and women. Running and throwing events took place over three days, against Florida International University (FIU), Jax State, Liberty, LA Tech, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State (NMSU), Sam Houston, and Western Kentucky University (WKU), as athletes pushed themselves to the limits, breaking records and coming out on top in their events.

Ending late Sunday night, the results were finalized, with C-USA newcomer Liberty University taking the championship with a score of 195 for the men and 177.7 for the women. UTEP was the runner-up, with 161 and 138. Sam Houston University’s men (150) and New Mexico State University’s women (119) placed third.

Day One 

May 10 was a big day for UTEP field athletes. Recently graduated thrower Arianne Morais not only took the gold for the javelin (56.53 m), but she also set a new meet record for the championship.

Morais also beat the previous UTEP record of 56.45 m, originally held by Erma Gene Evans in 2007, scoring 10 points for the Miners.

Junior Jalen Cadet participated in the decathlon events of the meet, winning four of the events, one of which was a personal best: the 400m (51.24 seconds), the high jump (1.99 m [6-6.25]) and long jump (7.22m [23-8.25]), and the 100 m dash (10.60 seconds). Cadet also took bronze in the men’s long jump, with a 7.36-meter jump.

Sophomore and cornerback of UTEP Football, Atiq Muhammad, won his first medal in the men’s long jump, placing second with a personal best of 7.41 meters (24-3.75).

UTEP had success in the 10,000 m, as freshman distance runner Sandra Maiyo placed first with a time of 35:25.01, coming out ahead of NMSU’s Emily Stutesman (35:51.51). Senior distance runner Titus Cheruiyot placed third for the men, with a time of 31:56.53.

Day Two 

UTEP Track and Field pushed hard into Saturday, earning four more medals in the meet. Junior Jakub Belik took the gold in the men’s high jump at 2.15m (7-0.5). Belik is no stranger to success in this event, as this win marked his fourth consecutive conference championship win in the high jump, two of which were indoors.

Freshman Alla Parnov took second place for the women’s pole vault final, with a jump of 4.17 m (13-8.25), raking in eight more points for the Miners.

Freshman Oleksandr Blonskyi placed second in the men’s decathlon with 6,649 points. Blonskyi began the day with a win in the decathlon 110 m hurdles, with a time of 14.66. He continued the decathlon, taking victories in both the pole vault (4.68 m) and the 1500 m (5:03.46). Blonskyi’s performance ranks seventh in UTEP’s program. 

Cadet earned another medal, placing third in the men’s decathlon with 6,035 points. He placed third in the decathlon javelin, with a 46.31 m toss.

Day Three 

By the end of Sunday, UTEP took 28 medals for the meet, 13 gold, eight silver, and seven bronze. C-USA newcomer. 

Despite the Miners coming in second place (161 points men, 138 points women), they performed better than last year’s championship results, where the men placed fifth and the women placed fourth.

“We competed hard, and things went our way pretty much all three days,” UTEP Director of Track & Field Mika Laaksonen said. “We had a few hiccups in the middle of the meet on the men’s side but other than that it was a perfect meet for us.”

Senior Neisha Burgher was a heavy hitter for the women’s team, as she not only took four gold medals from the entire meet and set two new meet records on Sunday, but she was also the “High Point Scorer of the Meet”, with 25.

UTEP track and field will be participating in the 2024 West Preliminaries, held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at John McDonnell Field on May 22-25. The NCAA Championships are June 5-8 in Eugene, Oregon, at Hayward Field.

Nicholas Maes is the sports editor 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.
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Contributor/Photographer
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is a photo contributor and began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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