The UTEP women track and field team captured its first ever Conference USA Outdoor Championship scoring a total of 153 points on Championship Sunday.
“Our women’s team capturing their first outdoor title ever is a huge deal and to do it here at home makes it that much more special,” head coach Mika Laaksonen said. “We have a pretty well bunch team, we have scorers in multiple events and unfortunately a lot of them are seniors. So, we’re going to have to rebuild and rebuild in a hurry.”
On top of the women’s championship, Laaksonen was named the women’s C-USA Coach of the Year for the outdoor season.
Sophomore sensation Tobi Amusan led the Miners by scoring 24.5 team points. The Kenyan native took home two gold (100m hurdles and 4x100m relay), one silver (200m) and a fifth-place finish in the long jump. Amusan clocked 12.80 in the 100m hurdles and ran a personal-best 22.92 in the 200m.
Winny Koech added 20 points by capturing gold in both the 10,000m (35:44.15) and the 5,000m run (16:52.87). Lilian Koech garnered two silver medals in the 1,500m crossing the line at 4:30.42 and the 800m with at time of 2:08.96.
Linda Cheruiyot scored in two events, with an eighth-place finish in the 5,000m run with a time of 17:53.33 and a bronze medal finish in the 1,500m with a time of 4:31.78. Rebecca Oshinbanjo earned a sixth-place showing with a personal-best 13.95 in the 100m hurdles, adding three team points.
In the 400m, Ada Benjamin (52.76) and Florence Uwakwe (53.18) garnered a silver and bronze medal, respectively. The two miners also were a part of the 4x400m relay team, along with Yanique Bennett and Imani Adams, that placed second with at time of 3:37.70 adding eight points.
On the men’s side, the Miners finished in third place tallying 117 points.
With the top performance of the meet for the men, freshman Emmanuel Korir clocked 44.53 setting the world’s fourth-fastest time in the 400m. Korir broke the school record previously held by Bert Cameron (44.58, 1981). Korir ran the anchor leg of the mile relay, along with James Bias, Donivan Ortega and Asa Guevara that garnered a silver medal with a time of 3:06.94 for 10 points. Korir’s split-time was 44.1.
Jonah Koech (3:44.64) and Michael Saruni, running a personal-best 3:46.15, took home gold and silver medals in the 1,500m run. The duo returned in the 800m, Saruni captured gold with a time of 1:47.48. Koech followed for a fifth-place finish with a time of 1:55.36. Both Miners combined for a total of 32 team points.
Bias clocked placed seventh in both the 400m (47.43) and the 200m (21.37), adding four team points.
In the 5,000m final, Antony Kosgei (15:15.73) captured the silver medal, Cosmas Boit (15:17.22) garnered bronze and Daniel Cheruiyot (15:23.13) with a seventh-place finish, combined for 16 team points.
The NCAA West Regional meet will take place in two weeks in Austin, Texas.
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Photos courtesy Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer El Paso Herald-Post