Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics

Flyin’ Miners Set for the NCAA West Region Preliminaries

The UTEP track and field team has seven student-athletes competing at the NCAA West Region Preliminaries on May 24-26 in Sacramento, Calif., hosted by Sacramento State.

Over the next three days, student-athletes from around the nation will take the track to punch their ticket to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Getting the action started for the Miners will be Donivan Ortega competing in the long jump on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. MT. The sophomore established himself early this season setting a personal best of 7.54m (24-9) at the UTEP Springtime taking first place. Ortega notched three consecutive performances jumping over 7.00m (23-0).

Dreshanae Rolle will race in the 400m hurdles prelims starting at 6 p.m. Rolle clocked a career-best 59.02 at the Conference USA Championships taking home a second-place showing. She’s ranked 34th in the west region heading into the meet. Finals will take place on Friday at 8:15 p.m.

Junior Lilian Koech will take the track at 7 p.m. racing in the 1,500m prelims. Koech has racked up an impressive outdoor season earning seven top-five finishes. She was crowned the C-USA Champion in the 1,500m running a personal-best 4:18.72. The Kenya native ranks 17th in the west region. The finals will be on Saturday at 7:15 p.m.

In the 400m, senior Asa Guevara will represent the Miners starting at 8:20 p.m. Guevara has earned six top-five finishes over the season. He claimed gold at the C-USA Championships in the 400m with a personal best of 45.26. The Trinidad and Tobago native ranks eighth in the west region. The 400m finals will start at 6:30 p.m. on Friday

Closing out the first day of competition will be the highly anticipated 800m at 9:10 p.m. featuring Michael Saruni and Jonah Koech. Saruni clocked the NCAA All-Time Best record in the 800m with a time of 1:43.25 at the Desert Heat Classic in Tucson, Ariz. The sophomore ranks first in the country. Koech notched gold medals in the 800m and 1,500m at the conference championships. The junior heads into the competition ranked ninth in the nation.

Newcomer Shakeem Smith will participate in the 110m hurdles on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Smith notched a fourth-place finish at the C-USA Championships with a time of 14.09. The 110m hurdle finals will be on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

During the preliminary rounds (Thursday/Friday), the top-three finishers from each heat plus the next three best times will advance to the quarterfinals (Friday/Saturday). The top-three finishers from each quarterfinal heat plus the next three best times will advance to the NCAA Championships.

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