Albuquerque – The UTEP track and field team showed improvements on the final day of the New Mexico Collegiate Classic Saturday.
“Some of our higher profile student-athletes are starting to look sharper,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “I think we took big strides forward in several events and we plan to go back to Albuquerque next week for our final tune-up before conference indoor championships with a very lean team.”
Leading the way for the Miners was distance runner Lilian Koech. She clocked in a season-best time of 4:46.21 in the mile to take second overall in the competitive field. The senior currently checks in at 57th nationally and first in Conference USA in the event. Teammate Carolyne Chepkosgei finished closely behind, crossing the finish line with a time of 4:47.31. The sophomore not only posted a personal-best time but also ranks second in the league in the mile.
In the women’s 60m quarterfinals former Miner great Tobi Amusan opened the meet with a stellar showing. The Adidas athlete dashed past the competition, posting a winning time of 7.44 and advancing to the preliminaries. In the second round of the 60m, Amusan took second in the second heat after clocking in at 7.41. She went on to finish sixth overall (7.45) in the finals.
Junior Kimisha Chambers competed for the second time this meet, representing the Miners in the 400m dash. The transfer took the track in the final section of the event and finished third overall with a time of 55.40. Chambers checks in at fourth in the league in the event. Teammates Madison Gibson (56.29) and Annette Bolomboy (56.36) crossed the finish line seventh and eighth, respectively.
Junior Sean Bailey dominated the men’s 400m, posting a personal-best time of 46.87 to claim first place overall. The sprinter currently ranks 19th nationally and second in C-USA in the event. He also rates fifth all-time in UTEP history in the indoor 400m.
Darius King finished second in the triple jump in his final attempt of the day. The sophomore posted a season-best leap of 14.62m (47-11.75). On the women’s side, Chantoba Bright also took second in her final attempt of the day, with a mark of 12.77m (41-10.75). The freshman rates 30th nationally and second in C-USA in the triple jump. Bright also earned a spot in the UTEP record book, checking in at sixth in the triple jump.
In the men’s 60m hurdles prelims Shakeem Smith ran in the fastest heat and earned a spot in the finals with a time of 8.13. The senior finished fifth overall in the 60m hurdles in a field that included 19 runners.
In the men’s shot put, freshman Iason Machairas once again improved his mark. The thrower registered a personal best of 17.26m (56-07.50) and sits third overall in the event in the league.
The Miners wrapped up the meet with a third-place finish in the men’s 4x400m relay. The relay featured Luis Baca, Bailey, Carvellion Horn and Anthony Brinson. The team clocked in a time of 3:21.42 and won the second section of the event.
The squad will compete at the Don Kirby Collegiate Invitational Feb. 8-9 in Albuquerque, N.M.