The UTEP men’s and women’s cross country team will kick off the 2016 season in Albuquerque, N.M., this weekend to compete in the Lobo Invitational. Both teams will run a 5K race Saturday morning at the University of New Mexico North Golf Course.
UTEP will be competing against three other teams: New Mexico, NM State, and Eastern New Mexico.
The Miners’ men’s team had an outstanding season in 2015 and was recently picked to finish first in the Preseason Conference USA poll. Returning for the Miners will be sophomore All-American Jonah Koech. The standout distance runner led the Miners at the 2015 NCAA Championships finishing in 11th place, and earned individual titles at the Conference USA Championships and NCAA Mountain Regionals.
Joining Koech on the course this weekend are All C-USA first team honorees (top seven finishers) Cosmas Boit, Daniel Cheruiyot, and Antony Koegei. At the C-USA Championships, Boit placed third with an 8K time of 24:45.0 and ran a personal best 8K time of 23:50.0 at the NCAA Pre-Nationals for a 37th place showing.
Kosgei and Cheruiyot placed sixth and seventh place in the 8K race with times of 24:53.1 and 24:54.0, respectively.
Rounding up the men’s squad is senior Evans Kiprono, who garnered top-10 showings during the 2015 season at the Lori Fitzgerald Classic (fifth) and Kachina Classic (seventh). The Kenyan native finished 30th at conference with an 8K time of 26:02.1 to help UTEP win its first conference title since the 2009 season.
On the women’s side, returning Miners are Gladys Jerotich, Lilian Koech, and Truphena Sum. Koech finished the 2015 season with an 11th place finish at C-USA Championships and earned All Conference USA second team honors.
Jerotich placed 18th at conference with a 5K time of 18:24.4 to earn third team honors, followed by Sum who ran a 5K time of 19:45.0 for 62nd place.
New Mexico’s women’s team is the defending NCAA team champions and is the top-ranked team in the nation as announced by the league.
The Eastern New Mexico women’s team was also picked to win the Lone Star Conference preseason poll.
The Lobo Invitational is a strong starting point for the Miners. The last time UTEP competed in 2014 the Miners placed four runners in the top-15 spots and took the team title as well.