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UTEP Set to Serve Community with Project MOVE

More than 1,200 members of the Miner Nation will participate in The University of Texas at El Paso’s ninth annual Project MOVE, UTEP’s day of community service, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, February 24, 2018, at 50 sites across El Paso County.

The volunteers – a combination of students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends – will clean, build, paint, plant, patch and landscape, among other things. Many of them also will learn about different parts of the community, the nonprofit organizations they are helping, and the people that agency serves.

“Participation in Project MOVE better prepares our students to be more well-rounded community members,” said Ofelia Dominguez, director of UTEP’s Union Services and lead organizer for this year’s Project MOVE (Miner Opportunities for Volunteer Experiences). “In some cases, the students will be introduced to a new part of the community and be taken outside their comfort zone. The experience will help them grow as people. It will make them more confident about what they can do.”

The day will start with a pep rally at UTEP’s Kidd Field at about 9 a.m. The volunteers, who will sport orange Project MOVE T-shirts, will be dismissed around 9:30 a.m. to go to their job sites.

Several UTEP alumni chapters and networks have expressed their desire to be part of Project MOVE. For example, several members of the San Antonio Alumni Network plan to landscape outside the offices of the Strong Foundation, an agency that helps homeless families with children.

Other Miner alumni groups also told UTEP’s Office of Alumni Relations of their willingness to participate.

“We hope that other chapters will join us so Project MOVE can become a national day of service,” said Liliana Barrios, director of alumni engagement programs. “We have our athletic events and social events, but we want our alumni to consider community service opportunities because they generate their own meaningful experiences.”

After Vegas Winning Streak, UTEP to Host I-10 Rival NM State Tuesday

The UTEP softball team will look to extend its three-game winning streak as the Miners (4-6) host NM State (3-3) on Feb. 20 to open the 2018 home portion of the schedule.

The Miners are coming off three victories in Las Vegas, Nev., as they started with an 8-0 triumph in five frames behind a combined no-hitter against New Mexico on Saturday afternoon. The winning ways continued later in the evening when the Miners used poise to defeat UNLV, 8-7.

The Vegas weekend ended with a 7-5 win over South Dakota in which the Miners found themselves down 5-0 heading into the third inning. UTEP scored six runs in the third to take the go-ahead lead and eventual victory. The 3-2 Vegas weekend was the first winning record in the desert since 2008.

The Miners’ three-game winning streak is the longest since winning three consecutive against North Texas in 2016. UTEP (four wins) has also won a third of its total from last season’s total wins (12).

First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex in FirstLight FCU Battle of I-10. Tickets are available at the gate [$5 for adults, $3 for children], or call 747.5234.

***UTEP/NMSU In Depth

SCOUTING NM STATE
The Aggies are at an even 3-3 mark after defeating Boston University, 2-1, on Feb. 18 to end a three-game losing skid. NM State opened the 2018 campaign with a pair of big wins over no. 17/13 Kentucky, while losing the series finale, 10-2 in Las Cruces.

After a pair of cancelations against no. 1/1 Oklahoma and Boston U due to rain on Feb. 16 at the Troy Cox Classic at NM State Field, the Aggies fell to Ball State, 3-2, and OU, 2-0, on Feb. 17. NM State is hitting .311 as a team with five home runs and 28 runs scored. Fahren Glackin is pacing the Aggies with a .583 average (7-12), while tallying four RBI. Kelsey Horton (.381) and Victoria Castro (.286) have each recorded two home runs and seven RBI. The team ERA is 3.93 as Kayla Green (3-1) leads the staff in wins and inning pitched (19.1). Samaria Diaz (0-2) leads the team with 14 strike outs in 15.1 frames thrown.

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. NM STATE
The Aggies own a 11-33 advantage against the Miners. UTEP defeated NM State on March 1, 2017 in Las Cruces, but fell in both contests at Helen of Troy Softball Complex (March 28). Kiki Pepi produced four RBI, Devyn Cretz struck out five batters and Erika Harrawood earned her first career save during the Miners’ 5-3 victory. During the two losses, UTEP registered a total of 21 hits.

SEVENTH NO-NO IN UTEP HISTORY
On Feb. 17, UTEP defeated New Mexico 8-0 in five innings behind a combined no-hitter. It was the first ever combined no-hitter in UTEP history as starting pitcher Devyn Cretz tossed 3.0 and Kira McKechnie threw 2.0 frames and combined for five strike outs and four walks during contest.

It was the first no-hitter since Kaitlin Fifield tossed a complete-game no-no against Texas A&M-CC on Feb. 27, 2016 in College Station. Stacie Townsend (March 18, 2010 at Belmont), Nichole Tunget (Feb. 10, 2008 at Prairie View A&M), Veronica Flournoy (March 10, 2006 vs. Centenary), Megan Barber (Feb. 22, 2005 vs. Howard Payne) and Renee Dipuccio (Feb. 15, 2004 vs. Sul Ross State) each tossed no-hitters during their respective careers.

THE WRIGHT STUFF
Junior transfer pitcher Julia Wright threw her best stuff on Feb. 18 against South Dakota. The Miners found themselves down 5-0 heading into the bottom third. UTEP scored six during that home half frame and Wright took over from there. She threw 4.0 frames, striking out a UTEP career high six Coyotes, but most importantly, didn’t walk any batters, while earned her first career save at UTEP. Wright leads the staff in innings pitched (25.2), starts (four) and K’s (18) in her first with the program.

2-0 WEEKEND FOR DEV
Sophomore Devyn Cretz produced her best weekend in her young career, winning a pair of contests during UTEP’s three game winning streak. The sophomore threw 11.0 innings and tallied six strike outs. But the big game came against New Mexico, in which she was part of a combined no-hit effort during the 8-0 [5] win. Cretz tossed 3.0 frames and recorded three Ks during the start in the circle, while also being credited with the victory against the Lobos. Cretz threw another 3.0 innings against UNLV in a relief appearance and received her second win on Saturday. Cretz struck out a Rebel, but most importantly, didn’t walk any batters. Cretz also recorded a pair of assists, the first against Nevada and the second against New Mexico. Cretz has tossed 17.2 frames (second most on staff), while recorded 10 K’s on the season.

SANTOS’S SPARK
Freshman Ilena Santos’s solo home run against South Dakota during the bottom third inning gave the Miners an offensive spark. With the score 5-0, Santos drove a 1-1 pitch into the wind over left center to put her squad on the scoresheet. The hit led to five other hits and five more runs that gave UTEP a 6-5 lead and eventual 7-5 triumph. Santos is hitting .280 (7-25) with four runs, two home runs and three RBI. She’s started all 10 games in left, recording nine putouts and four assists and being part of two of seven double plays turned.

LEADING THE SURGE
Junior Ariel Blair got her first start of 2018 against Boise State, in which she recorded an infield single and a stolen base, while she stole a base and scored a run against Nevada. But her presence was felt during UTEP’s three-game winning streak. Blair hit .500 (5-10) at the leadoff spot with an RBI and a stolen base during the trio of contests. Her RBI came during the UNLV game in which the Miners scored two insurance runs during the 8-7 victory versus the Rebels. Blair went 2-for-3 with a run scored against New Mexico and went 2-for-4 with a run and stolen bag against South Dakota. Overall, Blair is hitting .400 (6-15) with four runs and has a team-leading three stolen bases on three steal attempts.

COURT’S IN SESSION
Senior Courtney Clayton’s bat woke up in Las Vegas as she hit .389 (7-18) after entering the weekend hitting .214. Clayton added five runs, a double, triple, first home run of 2018 and three RBI in the early part of the season. Clayton hit a solo shot against Boise State on Feb. 16 in the late, while singling against Nevada during the early game. Then Clayton came up with big numbers against New Mexico, going a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs scored. Clayton’s RBI triple at UNLV put the Miners on the board first, while she scored a run against South Dakota. Clayton is hitting .313 and leads the Miners in at bats (32) and runs scored (eight).

TRACKING CC’S NUMBERS
Senior Courtney Clayton started 2018 with 10 hits in 32 at bats, eight runs scored, home run and four RBI. She also recorded 20 putouts with 16 assists from second base in five starts. Clayton now has 109 runs, moving to fifth in program history. Clayton’s 190 hits now rank fourth and needs 10 to move up to be tied for third on the program’s all-time list. Clayton recorded three RBI over the weekend and now has 90 in her career, ranking eighth. She’s looking to be the eighth Miner to reach 100-plus RBI during a career at UTEP. Clayton now had 548 career at bats, ranking eighth on the program’s all-time list. Clayton now has 329 assists, moving up to third on the all-time list, and needing two to move to second.

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
Sophomore Pamala Baber drew three walks at UNLV after striking out during her first at bat against the Rebels. The three walks drawn by Baber rank tied for sixth best in program history during the 8-7 win against UNLV. Baber is hitting .313 with a home run, three RBI and five walks (tied for team lead).

DO RUN-RUN
Courtney Clayton tied her career high with three runs scored against New Mexico, while Pamala Baber crossed the dish three times (the second most during her career) at UNLV. Their respective performances are tied for ninth best during a single game in program history. Baber scored four runs at New Mexico on March 8, 2017 – tied second most in team history.

SMITH-SONIAN GEM
Junior Cortney Smith turned in another gem this past weekend at the Marucci Desert Classic, hitting .429 (6-14) and connecting on her team-leading third home run of 2018. Smith hit a solo shot against Boise State on Friday, but then got a hold of a 1-2 pitch and sent over left field, a two-run shot, during UTEP’s 8-0 [5] victory against New Mexico on Saturday. She added three runs and three RBI during the Vegas trip. Overall, Smith is pacing the club with a .385 batting average (10-26), while tallying four runs, a double and five walks (tied for team lead). Defensively, Smith has recorded nine putouts and 19 assists in 10 games started at third base.

WALK THIS WAY
Cortney Smith and Pamala Baber have each drawn five walks in 2018. The pair ranks in the top 20 in Conference USA.

VIVA VALLES IN VEGAS
Freshman Ariana Valles came up with clutch offense (.438 avg., four RBI & three runs scored) and defense (six putouts, 13 assists & zero errors) at the Marucci Desert Classic. After starting a combined 1-for-6 during UTEP’s first two contests in Vegas, Valles’s bat lit up when she hit a hard triple to deep right field, scoring the game-winning runs during the Miners’ 8-0 [5] no-hit victory on Feb. 17.

Valles then produced a season-high three hits with a run scored and two RBI during the 8-7 victory at UNLV. Valles’s RBI single scored the first of three runs during the sixth inning against the Rebels, in which the Miners took a 6-5 lead after being down two runs. Defensively, Valles was smooth at short as she recorded six assists, tied for 10th best in program history.

Valles, a graduate of Chapin High School in El Paso, is hitting .391 with four RBI, four runs, a triple and double. Defensively, she leads the Miners with 23 assists, while recording 16 putouts.

RYDING HIGH
Senior Kaitlin Ryder had another great weekend, hitting .444 (8-18) with a team-high six RBI in Las Vegas. Ryder added a run and two doubles, while making the start behind home plate the last four games. During that span, she threw out two runners caught stealing and recorded a pickoff.

Ryder also tied her career high with a trio of hits at UNLV during the Miners’ 8-7 win, while she also registered a two-run single during a three-run sixth against the Rebels. Against South Dakota, Ryder tallied a career-high 10 putouts. Ryder ranks second on the team with a .367 batting average, while leading the Miners in RBI (nine), doubles (two) and hits (11). She also ranks second on the team with 33 putouts.

DRILL SARGENT
Senior Taylor Sargent is hitting .269 on the year and has started all 10 games at first base, while also seeing time in right field. She’s recorded a team-most 60 putouts and three assists. Sargent has 710 career putouts, ranking fifth in program history. Sargent drilled her first home run of 2018, a two-run home run against Saint Mary’s College in the first inning on Feb. 10. It was her first long ball since going yard against North Texas on May 1, 2016. Sargent has added seven hits, a run and three RBI, while only striking out once in 26 at bats.

#TURN UP
The UTEP defense turned its seventh double play, when Ariana Valles recorded an unassisted out on the runners at second and threw the batter out to first baseman Taylor Sargent at UNLV to end the sixth inning. The Miners rank first in that department in Conference USA. Overall, the last three seasons, the defense has turned 67 double plays in its last 110 games (.61 per game). UTEP’s .70 double plays turned per game ranks tied 18th nationally, while its seven turned are tied for fourth most in the nation.

GARCIA’S RETURN
Redshirt junior Linda Garcia, after missing all of 2017 due to injury, made her way back to the softball diamond in Tempe, Ariz. Garcia recorded three at bats in pinch hit situations (vs. Mizzou, no. 3 Oregon & UC Davis), while she also made an appearance behind the plate against San Jose State. Garcia also made her first start since May 11, 2016 when she got the nod at the designated player position against Boise State. Garcia tallied a putout against SJSU. Garcia’s last full season in 2016, she hit seven home runs and registered 20 RBI.

FIRST CAREER RUNS
Freshman Jordyn Quevedo and sophomore Bryanna Molina each recorded a run during clutch victories at the Marucci Desert Classic. Quevedo made the most of her opportunity when she was inserted as pinch runner in the sixth inning at UNLV, while she also stole her first career base to set up her run scored during a three-run sixth. Molina finally crossed the dish for the first time in her career during a pinch-hit opportunity against South Dakota. Molina reached on a fielder’s choice with bases loaded during UTEP’s six-run third.

DING-DING
The UTEP offense picked up in Las Vegas, as the Miners connected on five more home runs after hitting four dingers at the Kajikawa Classic. The Miners have blasted nine dingers, ranking tied with UTSA for second most in Conference USA. WKU leads with 11 home runs. Cortney Smith leads the Miners with three long balls, Ilena Santos has two, while Kaitlin Ryder, Pamala Baber, Courtney Clayton and Taylor Sargent have each went yard.

Love Bugs: UTEP Couple Shares Passion for Finding Chagas Cure

The “kissing bug” – the nickname for the insect responsible for spreading Chagas disease – certainly does not look like Cupid, but some might say it is symbolic of the chubby, winged cherub for one UTEP couple.

Rosa Maldonado, D.Sc., and Igor Almeida, D.Sc., are among the world’s leading Chagas disease experts and, combined, have been researching the global illness for more than 50 years. The University of Texas at El Paso professors reached a major milestone before the summer of 2017 when they moved one step closer to developing the first-ever clinical Chagas disease vaccine. The pair was granted a patent for their vaccine candidate.

The preventive vaccine had been in development since 2008 and in 2017 was tested at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) in San Antonio on nonhuman primates in collaboration with John VandeBerg, Ph.D. Results are promising and may lead to clinical trials in the coming years.

A second vaccine, based on synthetic parasite sugars, in collaboration with Katja Michael, Ph.D., associate professor in UTEP’s Department of Chemistry, also was tested in nonhuman primates at TBRI and yielded very promising results. Almeida started work on that vaccine 27 years ago and is currently awaiting patent approval. The vaccine studies were funded by the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

“The big problem with Chagas disease is heart failure,” Maldonado explained. “We have determined [that] the inflammation in the heart and the parasitic load significantly decreased, and this vaccine is protecting the animals from the disease. These are the first synthetic [Chagas] vaccines tested in a nonhuman primate model ever.”

The UTEP scientists said that between 6 million and 8 million people are chronically infected with the potentially life-threatening Chagas disease. The sickness is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to animals and people by insect vectors known as kissing bugs, as well as by contaminated blood, organs, foods and juices, and congenitally (mother to baby). The disease has been endemic to Latin America, but is rapidly spreading through the U.S., Europe, and other regions as a result of globalization. There is no clinical vaccine, although there have been several experimental efforts throughout the years.

“There is genuine excitement in the field for the discoveries Dr. Almeida and Dr. Maldonado have made along with their teams of student researchers,” said Robert Kirken, Ph.D., dean of the College of Science. “They have made significant contributions to the advancement of combating Chagas disease. UTEP is on the cusp of finding a vaccine that could potentially help millions of people.”

Life Partners

While Maldonado and Almeida make undeniably effective research partners, they are also partners in life. Through a common friend from Venezuela, where Maldonado was born, they met at the annual meeting on Chagas in 1991 in Brazil, Almeida’s home country. A year later they reunited at the same conference and have been together ever since.

“I think we complement each other in many aspects,” Almeida said. “Although we have similar backgrounds, I have been more focused in structure and function of sugars and lipids of parasites since my doctoral studies, while Rosa has been more dedicated to development of new chemotherapeutic approaches against parasitic diseases and molecular biology of parasites.”

Married now for almost 23 years, the first of which were many times spent away from each other due to research projects in separate parts of the world, the trailblazers in the fight against Chagas disease were brought together by the very disease they are studying.

A career in science was never a question for Maldonado.

“I always liked science since I was little,” she recalled. “I used to watch programs like heart transplants on TV and I used to collect red ants and black ants with my brother.”

Painful chapters in her life, the deaths of her cousin, godfather, grandfather and her beloved “Grandma Lita” as a result of health problems inspired her to focus her studies on improving human health.

“I think that all those losses contributed to my interest in science,” Maldonado said.

The researcher has found great success in her studies of kissing bugs and Chagas disease, publishing some of the first papers on the topic. She is recognized as a global expert in the subject matter and travels the world sharing her expertise.

Almeida is part of an elite global group of researchers elected in 2017 as Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology, which includes several Nobel Laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences. Fellows were selected based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.

Though he never had any direct influence from his family, Almeida says his interest in science came at a young age from curiosity.

“When I was an adolescent, perhaps 12-14 years of age, back in Brazil, I started collecting a bi-weekly magazine called The Scientists,” he recalled. “Each issue would come with an article about the life of a famous scientist in the fields of biology, chemistry or physics, and included a kit for conducting at home some basic experiments related to those scientists’ discoveries. I think it was then that I realized I wanted to be a scientist.”

Job openings brought the two experts to the borderland in 2004.

A Second Vaccine

In addition to their work with Chagas disease, Maldonado and Almeida also have recently helped make strides in the fight against cutaneous leishmaniasis with an effective human vaccine. The tropical disease also is found in Texas and Oklahoma, and has affected U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Eva Iniguez, Ph.D., who was a doctoral student at the time, and the UTEP team’s collaborators in Liverpool, England, (Alvaro Acosta-Serrano, Ph.D.) and Saudi Arabia (Waleed Al-Salem, Ph.D.), recently published their research findings in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the first journal solely devoted to the world’s most neglected tropical diseases.

Leishmaniasis is caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites, which are transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies – flies that are three times smaller than a mosquito. According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 700,000 to 1 million new cases annually, and they cause 20,000 to 30,000 deaths each year. The disease affects some of the poorest people on Earth. Though it is found in more than 90 countries in the tropics, subtropics and southern Europe, naturally transmitted cases also have been found in the northeastern parts of Texas and in Oklahoma. The disease has impacted at least 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I think we are in a very good position with this vaccine candidate,” Maldonado said. “I think it is very promising. If things go well, I think we will be able to introduce this vaccine for clinical use in the future.”

During the team’s more than four years of research at UTEP’s Border Biomedical Research Center, they discovered a vaccine formulation for cutaneous leishmaniasis that resulted in a 96 percent decrease in the lesions caused by the illness and showed an 86 percent protection rate from the disease in mice. The team once again counted on the expertise of UTEP chemist Katja Michael, Ph.D. Her research group has been synthesizing the molecules, known as antigens, used in this study and several others.

“The advances the team has made against cutaneous leishmaniasis have gained global attention,” Kirken said. “Drs. Almeida and Maldonado are again helping pave the way against deadly tropical diseases outside the lab. In addition, they are molding future scientists in the field to make an extended impact inside the lab.”

Secrets to Success

Almeida and Maldonado’s passion for what they do is evident through their publications, patents and presentations. Their fondness for each other is obvious when they are in the same room. They finish each other’s sentences and kindly care for each other.

“I think the secret is mutual respect,” Almeida said. “First and above all, we respect each other as professional individuals. I have always been very concerned about her professional happiness and fulfillment. Thus, I have aligned my professional interests and goals with hers. I have never thought about and made plans for my career, but rather our careers.”

You’ll never experience Almeida introducing Maldonado as his wife, though. She is first Dr. Maldonado, then his spouse.

“We have always tried to separate our roles,” Maldonado said. “He has always given me my place so I’m not in his shadow.”

Their labs are also separate, a decision Almeida described as “another important secret for keeping our personal and scientific marriage alive and well for almost 25 years.”

“We have extensively collaborated on several projects, but we have our own space and students,” he said.

The pair travels many weeks out of the year and spends a lot of time conducting research in the lab, but they each take time to unwind and recharge. Maldonado enjoys great food and a day of pampering, while Almeida loves soccer, classical music, reading, and also great food.

They’ve made El Paso and The University of Texas at El Paso their home, Maldonado even bringing her mom from Venezuela to have her close by, and find satisfaction in the difference they are making on and off campus.

“I feel great pleasure and satisfaction witnessing the growth and success of the students I have the opportunity to teach,” Maldonado said.

Almeida added: “We always tell our students, ‘You can do anything and be anyone; most of the time it just depends on you and your efforts. Always follow your dream and your heart, and always believe in yourself.’”

For Almeida and Maldonado, their dreams and their hearts led them to the same place: each other.

Miners Claim Eight Medals on Final Day of C-USA Championships

Birmingham, Al. – The UTEP track and field team tallied eight medals on the final day of the 2018 Conference USA Indoor Championships Indoor Track Championships at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham.

“We have a very young team and we had some good performances today,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “It’s good for us to have this kind of meet under our belt to see where we are as we prepare for the outdoor season.”

The women’s side notched four medals in three different events, junior Lilian Koech led the way for the Miners scoring 18.5 points in three events. The Kenya native took gold in the mile with a time of 4:53.15. She followed that performance with a bronze medal finish in the 3,000m stopping the clock at 9:39.56. Koech helped the distance medley relay team to a first-place finish.

Winny Koech tallied 16 points for the Orange and Blue over two events. Koech earned a second-place showing in the 3,000m (9:39.05) and 5,000m (16:33.39).

The Miners had eight more athletes score in the finals. Freshman Carolyne Chepkosgei took silver in the 800m clocking a time of 2:09.50, adding eight team points.

Tyler Ragin notched a seventh-place finish in the 60m clocking 7.61 to earn two points.

Following Ragin, junior Rebecca Oshinbanjo clocked a time of 9.14 in the 60m hurdles to finish eighth overall adding one team point.

In the final event, Madison Gibson, Lucy Mokrasova, Annette Bolomboy and Imani Adams combined to run the mile relay in a time of 3:44.90 to finish fourth overall and earning four team points.

The men’s team finished with four medals and 58 total team points for a sixth-place finish.

Sophomore Michael Saruni and junior Jonah Koech shined on day two with both student-athletes competing in the 800m and mile final. Koech clocked a mile time of 4:10.03 edging out Saruni (4:10.39) for the gold. Saruni returned the favor by narrowly beating Koech (1:52.10) in the 800m with a time of 1:52.05. Both Kenya natives scored 18 team points to lead the Miners.

A pair of Miners notched fourth-place finishes in their respective events, scoring five team points. Senior Asa Guevara clocked 47.97 in the 400m to finish fourth overall. Newcomer Shakeem Smith clocked a personal-best 8.07 in the 60m hurdles.

Boaz Ronoh finished 14th overall in the 3,000m clocking a personal-best time of 8:37.30.

Benjamin Coronado competed in the shot put and tossed a personal-best 14.60m (47-11) to finish 13th overall.

The Miners will return to action on March 9-11 for the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas. The top-16 athletes in the nation for each event will qualify to the championships.

Be sure to follow @UTEPTrack on Twitter and UTEPTRACK on Instagram for live updates and breaking news.

Miners Explode for Six-Runs in Third to Down South Dakota 7-5

LAS VEGAS, Nv. – When South Dakota poured on four runs in the first inning and another during the third to take an early 5-0 lead on a UTEP, the ‘never say die’ Miners – bolstered by confidence gained in their previous two wins – came roaring back .

The Miners (4-6) pounded out six hits and crossed the dish six times in the third inning on their way to a 7-5 victory over the Coyotes (1-10) on a windy and chilly Sunday afternoon at SLC Park.

The victory is also the Miners’ third in a row, the most since winning three consecutive against North Texas in 2016.

“[The team] just kept plugging away,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “I think with yesterday’s big wins, it gave the team confidence. I didn’t see them panic at all and they have this look of trust in their eyes no matter what was going to happen – we were going to win that game. You just have to love it when a team gets to that point.”

Starting South Dakota pitcher Dustie Durham cruised during the first two innings, allowing only one hit – an Ariel Blair bunt single during the first frame. Blair would advance to second on an errand throw by the pitcher, but Durham kept the UTEP bats in check.

In the top third, after a pair of wild pitches, Taylor Steinfeldt, who reached base on a walk, scored a run on a Durham groundout to second base, giving the Coyotes a 5-0 lead.

The Miners’ bats then came alive during the bottom half.

Freshman Ilena Santos got the hit parade started and sparked her teammates when she drove a 1-1 pitch into blustery wind conditions over left center to put the Miners on the board. It was Santos’s second dinger of the season. Fellow freshman Ariana Valles followed with a shallow double to center as the high winds kept the ball in the air, making it difficult for the shortstop and center fielder to make the out. Blair connected on her second bunt single of the day to put runners at the corners for the Miners, while following with a stolen base to set up Kaitlin Ryder. The senior took a 1-2 pitch and sent to left that plated Valles and Blair, making the score 5-3.

The inning continued as Courtney Clayton reached on an error by the shortstop and Smith bunted to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Bryanna Molina reached on a fielder’s choice as Ryder was thrown out at home. But Pamala Baber singled on an infield hit to shallow third, scoring Clayton to make the contest a one-run edge.

The Miners batted around the order as Santos, who led the inning with her solo shot, put the ball into play and reached when the shortstop committed her second error of the inning. UTEP capitalized on the miscue as Baber and Molina scored to give their squad a 6-5 advantage.

Relief pitcher Julia Wright took over from there. The junior transfer gave the Miners 4.0 fantastic innings. Wright struck out six Coyotes with zero walks allowed. Wright earned the save, the first of her UTEP career. Junior transfer Kira McKechnie, who came into relief for starter Devyn Cretz, threw 2.0 frames, allowed only one hit and struck out two. McKechnie (2-2) earned the victory, her second of her collegiate career.

The Miners put an insurance run on the scoresheet during the sixth on a Ryder RBI single that plated Valles, who singled to right with one out.

Wright then forced a fly out to right (Baber), struck out a batter looking and an unassisted out by first baseman Taylor Sargent to put the contest in the books.

UTEP amassed 11 more hits, its third consecutive double-digit hit game. Ryder finished 2-for-4 with three RBI, Blair went 2-for-4 with a run scored, Smith registered a 2-for-3 outing and Valles produced a pair of hits on a trio of at bats with a pair of runs scored.

“We’re hitting the ball well and putting it into play,” Echo-Hawk said. “It’s like I said last night, if you put the ball into play, it puts pressure on the defense. We also got those timely hits during the last three games. But we need to continue to work, but I couldn’t be prouder of this group of ladies.”

The Miners finished the weekend 3-2, the first winning weekend in Las Vegas, Nev., since the 2008 season.

“We had a couple bad innings here and there [versus Nevada and Boise State on Friday] and if you take those bad innings away, those two ball games are a different outcome,” Echo-Hawk said. “But [Nevada and Boise State] are great teams; can’t say one bad thing about them. We competed with them for a portion of the game, we just need to compete the whole game.”

And the Miners did just that Saturday and Sunday.

Up Next
UTEP will host I-10 rival NM State (3-3) on Feb. 20 to open the 2018 home slate. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The Miners will then host the UTEP Tournament Feb. 23-25.

Old Dominion Dominates Miners 82-33

NORFOLK, VA. – Old Dominion stifled UTEP into 27.5 percent shooting, cruising to an
82-33 victory over the Miners on Saturday night at the Constant Center.

The Miners (8-18, 3-11 C-USA) made 14-of-51 shots and 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) from
three-point range. UTEP also committed 17 turnovers, leading to 20 points for the
Monarchs (21-5, 12-2 C-USA).

“We played a far superior team on the road tonight,” UTEP Interim Head Coach Phil
Johnson said. “Obviously it showed in the score. I’m still disappointed in the
fact that we just didn’t have a good start. Turnovers were brutal and you can’t do
that against a team like this. They convert every turnover into a basket and dunks.
Obviously the glass was an issue when Matt [Willms] went down. There’s not much
there in the frontline to go rebound. Tirus [Smith] is still trying to get in
shape.”

Willms was limited to nine minutes before leaving the game. He had an ice pack on
his knee in the second half. Smith fouled out in 12 minutes. Paul Thomas battled
inside. He was the only Miner in double figures with 10 points in 24 minutes, and
he also paced UTEP with six rebounds. The Miners were outrebounded 43-32.

The Monarchs bolted to a 12-2 lead as the Miners missed seven of their first eight
shots. With his team trailing 7-0, Johnson made a wholesale lineup substitution
with Jake Flaggert, Kobe Magee, Tirus Smith, Trey Touchet and Trey Wade all coming
in with 17:22 on the clock. But the Miners didn’t fare much better against ODU’s
stout defense the rest of the half. UTEP finished the period trailing 32-14,
including a buzzer-beating three by Magee right before the break.

The Miners shot 27.3 percent (6-for-22) from the field over the opening 20 minutes.
ODU shot just 43.8 percent (14-for-32) but scored 10 points off 10 UTEP turnovers,
many on transition dunks.

The second half was another mighty struggle for the Miners after they pulled within
15 (37-22) on a layup by Omega Harris with 16:36 to go. It got away from them as
Old Dominion built the lead to 49. The Monarchs scored 50 points in the second half
and, for the second straight game, got going from three-point range. After making
15 triples on Thursday against UTSA, ODU hit 12 on Saturday – including nine in the
second half.

Randy Haynes led the Monarchs with 24 points, while Ahmad Caver had 18 along with
seven assists and no turnovers. Caver and Brandan Stith both had three steals.

“We’re going to throw this one in the garbage can and try to get home and play
better,” Johnson said.

The Miners will complete their 2017-18 home schedule next week against LA Tech
(Thursday) and Southern Miss (Saturday). Tip-off for both games is 7 p.m. MT.

UTEP Softball Hangs on to Defeat UNLV 8-7

LAS VEGAS, Nv. – Just hours after UTEP defeated New Mexico behind a combined no-hitter, the Miners (3-6) came up with a huge 8-7 victory over host school UNLV (6-2) on the second day at the Marucci Desert Classic at Eller Media Stadium on Saturday night.

“It was a crazy game, but it’s the kind of games you love,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “It was a battle and I think our kids did a nice job. We went ahead and [UNLV] came back and [UTEP] did a nice job of not giving up, continued to fight and our hitters were on it.”

Courtney Clayton, who registered two more hits on the night after getting three against UNM, continued her monster day at the plate when she tripled in Kaitlin Ryder in the first inning to put the Miners on the scoreboard first.

With the score 1-0 heading to the fourth inning, Pamala Baber drew a one-out walk, the first of three for the sophomore. Kacey Duffield followed with her first hit in a UTEP uniform, a double down the right field line. A pair of freshman then gave the Miners a 3-0 lead when Ileana Santos and Ariana Valles used back-to-back RBI singles to score Baber and Duffield.

But the Rebels answered with a four-run fourth and added another run in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead.

The Miners, however, were resilient.

“I told [the team] to keep fighting,” Echo-Hawk said. “We’re a good team and if you keep fighting, things are going to happen and they did. We put the pressure on them and when you put pressure on other teams, it forces them to make mistakes.”

In the top sixth, Baber drew her second walk of the night, while Duffield also walked. Freshman Jordyn Quevedo was inserted as a pinch runner for Duffield. Baber and Quevedo performed a double steal that set up Valles’s second RBI in the contest. She drove a ball down the right line that plated Baber. Then with two outs, Ryder took the first pitch off relief pitcher Janine Petmecky up the middle to center that scored Quevedo and Valles to take a 6-5 lead.

In the top seventh, the Miners tacked on insurance runs. Baber drew her second one-out walk and third overall of the night, Duffield singled to right field and Santos singled to load the bases. Valles then put the ball into play as UNLV’s shortstop Samantha Diaz committed an error that scored Baber. The Miners then took an 8-5 lead when Ariel Blair used a bunt that scored Duffield.

The Rebels made things interesting when Diaz connected on a two-run, one-out home run. The Rebels put two more runners at the corners with two outs, but relief pitcher Devyn Cretz forced a groundout to Valles that put the game in the books.

Cretz (2-2) threw 3.0 innings, walking none and striking out a batter for her second win of the day. Julia Wright made the start and hurled 3.0 frames and tallied two K’s. Kira McKechnie, who was part of that combined no-hitter earlier on Saturday, threw one inning.

The Miners amassed 13 hits, led by Ryder (3-for-5) and Valles (3-for-4). Baber scored three runs and drew three walks, while Duffield (2-for-3) and Santos (2-for-4) each recorded a pair of knocks. Blair registered three hits during the two victories.

Clayton is now 10 RBI away from 100 in her career, ranking eighth on UTEP’s all-time list. She also has 190 career hits, 10 from tying Stacie Townsend for third on the all-time list.

UTEP also turned its seventh double play of the season to end the sixth inning. The victory was the second against UNLV and first since defeating the Rebels 6-0 on Feb. 19, 2016.

Up Next
UTEP will take on South Dakota on Sunday at 9 a.m. PT/10 MT. The Miners will be the designated ‘home’ team in the contest at the SLC Park.

UTEP Men’s Golf Wraps Up Play At John A. Burns Intercollegiate

Lihu’e, Kaua’i, HI – Another solid round was turned in, but the UTEP men’s golf team stayed in 15th place out of 20 teams to end the John A. Burns Intercollegiate at the Wailua Golf Course (par 72/6,991 yards) in Lihu’e, Kaua’i, HI on Saturday.

The Miners mirrored Friday’s low-round score of 291 to finish the tournament with a 17-over 881 (299-291-291) total. No. 4 Texas A&M won the title after firing 29-under 835 (283-278-274), while No. 28 North Carolina and No. 49 UNLV tied for second place with 12-under 852, and Virginia and No. 42 Arizona tied for fourth place with 6-under 858 to round out the top-5. The Aggies’ Chandler Phillips won the individual title after going 13-under 203 (69-67-67).

“We had three guys that shot even today, so that was a little more balanced,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “We just struggled to get a top to bottom performance. We just never could get comfortable around the greens. I would have expected scoring to get a little bit better each round you play. I think we did a better job in the second and third rounds, but we dug ourselves in a hole we just couldn’t climb out of. We were so far back of passing a bunch of teams.”

Pacing the Miners, Charles Corner squeezed his way into the top-20 of the field after firing a round of 72 for a 1-under 215 (72-71-72) showing and a share of 20th place. The senior picked up four birdies in his even round for a team-leading 12 total throughout the tournament. It marked the third time the reigning Conference USA co-Golfer of the Week finished at the top of the UTEP card this season.

Juniors Aaron Terrazas and Settavut Paradee stayed at each other’s hips and climbed up 14 spots on the leader board, both tying for 64th place with 6-over 222. Both Miners shot even in round three, while Paradee shot his low round of 72 on Saturday, complete with four birdies including one to both start and end his day. Terrazas also had his low round of 72 while carding three birdies.

Senior Nicklas Pihl shot a round of 76 for a 9-over 225 (76-73-76) score and a share of 85th, while Prescott Mann was close behind with a round of 75 for a 10-over 226 (77-74-75) total, tying for 87th place to round out the Miner scorecard. Mann picked up four birdies while Pihl tallied two.

Playing as an individual, Chad Ahn carded two birdies on his way for a share of 98th after shooting 14-over 230 (77-77-76) in the tournament.

As a unit, the Miners totaled 43 birdies, 165 pars and one eagle in the tournament.

The Miners will return to action Feb. 26 and 27 when they compete at the National Invitational Tournament in Tucson, Ariz.

UTEP Pitchers Blank Lobos, As Bats Blast UNM En Route to 8-0 Win

LAS VEGAS, Nv. – UTEP pitchers Devyn Cretz and Kira McKechnie combined for a no-hitter, Courtney Clayton went 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored, Cortney Smith hit her third home run of 2018 and freshman Ariana Valles recorded her first career triple and RBI as the Miners defeated New Mexico, 8-0 in five frames in the early game on the second day at the Marcucci Desert Classic.

“It was just a good all-around game and I think some people had good individual performances, but I think it was a great team win,” fifth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “It wasn’t one person who did everything, and talking about a no-hitter, two pitchers played a part in that, but we talked a lot yesterday that we are a unit and we’re doing it together. We rely on each other and I think they woke up this morning and they did everything we asked them to do.”

In the fifth inning with the score 4-0, Clayton led off the bottom half with a single up the middle, followed by Smith’s two-run blast over left field. With the score 6-0 and one out, Pamala Baber was hit by a pitch to reach first. Freshman Ilena Santos then singled to set up Valles’s clutch hit. And on the first pitch, Valles drove the ball to deep right that scored the game-winning runs.

Taylor Sargent put the Miners on the board first when she singled in Clayton in the first inning. The Miners then went up 4-0 during the third inning as Ariel Blair led off with the first of two hits on the day. Kaitlin Ryder plated Blair on a single to left, but was thrown out at second. Clayton singled for a second time and Smith reached on a fielder’s choice while following with a double steal to put the runners at second and third base. With Baber at the plate, she connected with a ball hit to the Lobos’ shortstop, but a throwing error paved the way for Court and Cort.

Cretz made her second start of the season, hurling 3.0 frames and striking out three and McKechnie tossed 2.0 innings and recorded a pair of Ks. It was the seventh no-hit effort in UTEP history, first since 2016 and first ever combined no-hitter.

The Miners registered 11 hits, as Blair and Smith each finished 2-for-3.

Clayton now has 188 career hits, moving up the fourth on the program’s all-time list. She also has 108 runs scored, moving to fifth on the all-time list.

UTEP will take on UNLV later today at 3:45 p.m. PT/4:45 MT.

Old Dominion Rally Sends Game into OT; Miners Fall 56-52

NORFOLK, Va.- UTEP held Old Dominion to 34 percent shooting and controlled the boards (43-31) but the home side got things going late to down the Miners, 56-52, in overtime Saturday afternoon.

The Miners (14-11, 5-7 C-USA) led by 13 (46-33) with 6:21 to play in regulation before the Monarchs (8-19, 6-17 C-USA) peeled off 10 consecutive points to cut the deficit to three with 54 seconds left. Faith Cook knocked down a pair of free throws to put UTEP up by five (48-43) but ODU got a 3-pointer, a steal, and then a lay-up to forge the first tie of the tilt (48-48) with 21 seconds remaining. Najala Howell’s jumper at the buzzer rimmed out to send the contest to overtime.

ODU scored the first five points of overtime to secure its initial lead of the game. The Miners got on the board with a pair of Howell free throws to get within three (53-50) but could get no closer the rest of the way.

After shooting 41.1 percent (14-34) over the first three quarters of play, UTEP was a combined 2-16 (12.5 percent) during the fourth quarter and overtime. The Miners also had eight of their 20 turnovers in that stretch, which afforded ODU the opportunity to rally back.

“I just feel bad for our team because I thought we played great for about three-and-a half quarters,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We let the momentum and the crowd affect us late. We battled so hard; I love my team to death and deserved to win that game today.”

Tamara Seda posted her 12th double-double (11 points, 14 rebounds to lead the Miners. Cook (10 points, five assists) and Zuzaana Puc (10 points) hit double figures as well while Howell finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Alexander added six points and nine boards.

Kelly Loftus came off the bench to pour in 22 points to lead the way for ODU while Victoria Morris added 11 points. MaKayla Timmons contributed seven points and a game-high eight assists.

The two sides traded triples on their respective opening possessions before the Miners ripped off 10 straight points to grab a 13-3 advantage with 3:43 to play in the first half. Cook hit a pair of 3-pointers in the sequence, while Puc (four points) and Zec (three points) also got involved. ODU halted it by splitting a pair of free throws and then knocking down a jumper to get within six (13-6) but the Miners scored the final four points of frame to secure a 17-6 lead through 10 minutes of action.

ODU tallied the first three points of the second quarter but the Miners ripped off seven consecutive points to surge ahead by 15 (24-9) with 6:19 left in the half. ODU blitzed back with a 6-0 run in a span of just 38 seconds to get the margin down to single digits (24-15). After UTEP extended the lead back to 14 (29-15), the Monarchs peeled off nine straight points over the next four minutes to climb within five (29-24). UTEP halted the surge while regaining some momentum with a traditional 3-point play from Seda to make it 32-24 UTEP heading to halftime.

UTEP had a quick start to the third quarter, extending its lead to 13 (37-24) just two minutes into the frame. The two sides went back-and-forth the rest of the period, allowing the Miners to carry an 11-point cushion (44-33) into the final period of play.

The defense by both squads stole the show early in the fourth quarter, with both teams going scoreless for more than three-and-a half minutes at the onset of the frame. Alexander ended the drought by knocking down a jump shot from the top of the key. UTEP then went cold while ODU found its rhythm to battle back in the eventual OT victory.

UTEP will return to action when it plays host to UTSA at 7 p.m. MST Friday.

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Miners Connect on Three Home Runs on Day One at Murucci Desert Classic

LAS VEGAS, Nv. – UTEP hit three home runs and turned another double play but it wasn’t enough as the Miners (1-6) fell to Nevada, 6-2, and Boise State, 8-2, on Friday during the first day of the Marucci Desert Classic.

UTEP will continue the weekend against New Mexico (11:15 a.m. PT) and host UNLV (3:45 p.m. PT) on Saturday. The Miners and Rebels will play at Eller Media Stadium.

UTEP 2, Nevada 6
Pamala Baber connected on her first home run of her sophomore campaign and Courtney Clayton tallied an RBI double, but Nevada, behind a strong pitching performance from freshman Julia Jensen, defeated UTEP, 6-2, in the early game on Friday.

Clayton now has 39 career doubles and now tied for third with Amber Bennett on the program’s all-time list.

Jensen threw a complete game, allowing two runs, walking five and striking out seven. The Wolf Pack offense was paced by Kenzi Goins and her five RBI. She finished 2-for-4 that included a two-run home run in the third inning.

With the score 6-0, Clayton put her squad on the board when she drove in pinch-runner Ariel Blair in the fifth inning. Blair pinch ran for freshman Ariana Valles, who singled up the middle. Blair stole second to put herself in scoring position. Following the run, Cortney Smith drew a walk as Clayton advanced to second, but the Miners couldn’t sustain more offense in the frame.

Baber blasted a solo home run over center it the sixth inning to make the score 6-2. The Miners had a pair of runners on in the bottom seventh after Kaitlin Ryder singled and Smith drew a walk, but Jensen struck out the final batter to end the contest.

Starting hurler Kira McKechnie (1-2) made the start, throwing 3.0 innings and striking out two, and Devyn Cretz finished the contest, tossing 4.0 frames. The two pitcher only combined for three walks in the contest.

UTEP 2, Boise State 8
Courtney Clayton and Cortney Smith each hit solo home runs, but the Broncos used a seven-run fifth inning to down the Miners.

After three scoreless frames and solid pitching from starters Julia Wright and Gianna Mancha, Clayton put her squad up 1-0 after connecting on a 1-2 pitch and drove it over left center in the top fourth. It was Clayton’s first home run of 2018 and 19th for her career as she now ranks seventh on UTEP’s all-time home run list.

In the bottom fourth, Boise State had runners on when Alison Seng reached on an error and Justene Molina singled with one out, Wright forced Makenzie Sullivan to hit into a double play (Clayton to Ariana Valles to Taylor Sargent) – UTEP’s sixth of 2018.

But the Broncos drew four walks, including one with bases to tie the game and Jessica McKay hit a grand slam to make the score 5-1 during the bottom fifth.

Smith finished 2-for-3 and Lindsey Sokoloski singled to lead off the seventh inning. Wright (0-2) threw 4.1 innings and struck out four Broncos in the process.

Miner Men’s Golf Shoots Low Round Two At John A. Burns Intercollegiate

Lihu’e, Kaua’i, HI – A low second round by the UTEP men’s golf team put them in 15th place out of 20 teams on day two of the John A. Burns Intercollegiate at the Wailua Golf Course (par 72/6,991 yards) in Lihu’e, Kaua’i, HI on Friday.

Four Miners fired rounds in the low-70s to turn in a round two of 3-over 291 for a total score of 14-over 590 (299-291) heading into the third and final round tomorrow. The field, which includes six teams ranked in the top-50 nationally, continues to be lead by No. 49 UNLV with its 21-under 555 (270-285) total. The tournament will conclude tomorrow with an 11 a.m. MST shotgun start.

“All in all, we had some guys play better today, just too many big mistakes,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “It was an improvement on yesterday, Im pleased in that respect and hopefully we keep improving. It was clearly a better effort today.”

Senior Charles Corner remained under-par and at the top of the UTEP scorecard with his round of 71 for a 1-under 143 (72-71) total through two rounds. Corner remained in a seven-way tie for 26th and strung together six birdies in his run, including two consecutive birdies to both begin and end his play.

Fellow senior Nicklas Pihl jumped six spots on the leader board on Friday with his solid round of 73 to share a spot in 63rd with a 5-over 149 (76-73) total. Pihl notched two birdies and no bogeys to carry him into the final round.

An eagle on a Par 4 to open up his Friday play and two birdies helped boost junior Settavut Paradee 10 spots up in the field with his second round of 73. Paradee sits in a knot with teammate Aaron Terrazas in 78th place, both with tournament totals of 6-over 150. Terrazas shot a round of 76 on Friday, carding three birdies.

Not far behind, senior Prescott Mann pieced together a strong round of 74 that included four birdies to tie for 84th in the field. Mann will head into the final round with a 7-over 151 (77-74) total. UTEP individual Chad Ahn picked up two birdies and mirrored his round one score of 77 for a 10-over 154 (77-77) total.

Together, the Miners carded 26 birdies, 112 pars and one eagle.

The John A. Burns Intercollegiate will conclude tomorrow beginning with an 11 a.m. MST (8 a.m. HT) shotgun start. Live stats are available at www.golfstat.com.

UTEP Employees Run Into Fitness

Longtime UTEP staff member Terry Weber was 57 years old when she trained for her first 5K run with support from fellow Miners in The University of Texas at El Paso’s Couch Potato to 5K training program.

Started in 2012, the training program was designed by UTEP’s Wellness Program to motivate employees to get off the couch and start exercising. It joined new runners like Weber with experienced runners from UTEP called peer leaders, who offered advice on how to get started, avoid injuries and stay on track.

Weber trained with peer leader Courtney H. Rios, a senior internal auditor II at the University, to get in shape for UTEP’s Commitment to Fitness 5K Run in 2012. In 10 weeks, Weber went from walking around the concourse at the Don Haskins Center to finishing the race first in her age group.

“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” said Weber, administrative services coordinator in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. “I’m 63 and I started running when I was 57. I think that’s an inspiration right there. Courtney was my coach and she and I are still running three days a week.”

Starting February 19, Weber and Rios will team up with the Wellness Program to lead an early morning Couch Potato to 5K running group on campus for UTEP employees.

Wellness Program Manager Daniela Lerma will coach an afternoon Couch Potato group for employees who’d rather exercise after work.

“This is a good starting point for UTEP employees who want to run, and hopefully it will help them make a habit of physical activity,” Lerma said. “We also want to give faculty and staff an opportunity to come together and support each other by being able to run as a group.”

The Wellness Program also will offer 5K to 10K and Half Marathon running groups for advanced runners eager to train for a 10K run or half marathon.

Union Services Director Ofelia Dominguez, Social Work Professor Mark Lusk, Ed.D., and Kinesiology Lecturer Sean Miller will coach the advanced groups.

Lusk has run 18 marathons including the Boston Marathon, Berlin Marathon and the California International Marathon. He said anyone can run, regardless of their age, ability, weight and gender.

“It’s the quickest way to improve fitness and to manage weight,” he said. “It’s also cheap. It just requires a good pair of running shoes, shorts and a couple of T-shirts. You start slowly and gradually build up, walking or jogging at first, and in time, you suddenly find that it has become easy and, more importantly … fun.”

Beginners will follow a 12-week plan that combines short intervals of walking and running to prepare them to run a 5K, or 3.1 miles.

Starting off slow and steady helped Weber – a UTEP employee for more than 20 years – put her best foot forward. For 20 minutes during lunch, she alternated between walking for two minutes and running for two minutes at the Don Haskins Center. With Rios’ help, she gradually increased her running time. After a few weeks, Weber and Rios were running three minutes and walking one minute around Sun Bowl Stadium. Soon Weber was running from University Avenue to Magoffin Auditorium, past Old Main and over Cardiac Hill to the Don Haskins Center at lunch.

Like Weber, Rios joined a UTEP fitness program when she started running in 2009. The support she got from her UTEP coaches helped her run her first mile at the age of 52. Since then she has completed three marathons and several half marathons.

“I love to coach new runners because many people believe they have to be very athletic to be able to run distances, but that is not true,” Rios said. “It only takes commitment and discipline, and the rewards are well worth it! The friendships you make along the way last a lifetime.”

The 5K to 10K and Half Marathon running groups will be designed to help experienced runners who’ve run a 5K get to the next level, whether it’s a 10K or half marathon.

Workouts will focus on enhancing runners’ endurance while improving their performance through speedwork.

Ofelia Dominguez started running seven years ago because she was tired of not being physically active. Since then, she has participated in five half marathons, five triathlons, and four 10Ks.

Dominguez said group workouts are a great way to keep runners motivated.

“I think when you run in a group, you’re held accountable, so it’s not as easy to say, ‘I’m not going to run today,” she said.

Participants will meet at 5:15 p.m. on Monday, February 19, at the Sun Bowl Stadium’s south entrance and split into beginner and advanced groups.

Lerma said after Feb. 19 each group will meet on a designated day and time each week until May 7. All groups will run on the UTEP campus. Participants should register at utep.edu/run-fitness/ by Feb. 19.

For more information, contact wellness@utep.edu.

Author: Laura L. Acosta -UTEP Communications

UTEP’s First Sloan Research Fellowship Awarded to Chemistry Assistant Professor

An assistant professor at The University of Texas at El Paso is the campus’ first-ever recipient of the Sloan Research Fellowship.

Skye Fortier, Ph.D., of UTEP’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was named one of 126 winners of the top prize of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on Thursday. The fellowship is a highly regarded honor that recognizes early-career scholars whose achievements mark them as the next generation of scientific leaders.

The list was announced Thursday, February 15, with a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Fortier will receive $60,000 to further his research in synthetic and organic chemistry.

“Being named a Sloan Research Fellow is a tremendous honor,” said Robert Kirken, Ph.D., dean of the College of Science. “For Dr. Fortier, this is a testament to his capabilities as a scientist. This award means his work has stood out from among the top researchers in the country. The Sloan Foundation considers him to have the potential to become the next great leader in his field. That is exciting news for him and an amazing opportunity for UTEP.”

The Sloan fellowship is open to scholars in eight scientific and technical fields – chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics.

Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists and winning fellows are selected by independent panels of senior scholars on the basis of each candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity and future potential.

Fortier said that the recognition would not have been possible if not for his student researchers.

“Even though this is the research program that I developed, none of it would ever be executed without the students that are in my laboratory,” he said. “We, of course, have great faculty, but we also have phenomenal students. They’re the ones executing this research; they’re the ones doing the hard work. Together I think we make a really powerful team.”

Fortier said the money he will receive as a Sloan recipient will facilitate the research activities he is conducting to make metal-containing compounds. Fortier said he hopes to develop methods to create organo-metal molecules for new types of chemical reactions and new, low-cost, easy-to-manage catalysts that can be applied to various facets of science.

Fortier was nominated for the prize by associate professor Keith Pannell, Ph.D., his colleague in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry who was once his research mentor. Fortier worked in Pannell’s laboratory when he was an undergraduate student at UTEP in the early 2000s.

“It was clear to me from the first time I met him that he was an energetic young man,” Pannell said. “Skye was someone who could work, think and live inside the box as well as outside the box. That sort of creativity is rare. It is absolutely beautiful to see his success come to fruition.”

Thomas’ Jumper, Last-Second Steal Seals Miner Victory over Charlotte 87-86

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Paul Thomas hit the go-ahead jumper with 2.6 seconds left, and UTEP topped Charlotte 87-86 on Thursday at Halton Arena for its first road win of the season.

“We ran a little stagger for Isiah [Osborne] to come off, thinking that they would come to Isiah and Paul was going to slip towards the ball and sure enough, he got free and went strong to the basket,” UTEP Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson said.

The Miners (8-17, 3-10 C-USA) took a major step towards a berth in the Conference USA Championship in a wild basketball game. UTEP led by as many as 22 points in the first half, fell behind by seven with about six minutes to go, then rallied past the 49ers (5-19, 1-12 C-USA).

“It was a crazy game,” Johnson said. “They had a guy [Luka Vasic] that had made one three in conference play and he makes four tonight. They made their run by hitting threes and really, we were helping off those guys and not expecting it but they looked like Reggie Miller out there shooting the ball. They came back and when teams make a run at you, you get a little tight and that’s what happened. We just wanted to keep scoring and keep grinding and we had three or four big stops in the last two minutes.”

Both teams were hot from long range, as UTEP made 11-of-20 from beyond the arc and Charlotte was 14-for-24. But the Miners, 9-for-12 from three-point territory in the first half, cooled off to 2-for-8 over the final 20 minutes and Charlotte stayed hot throughout.

The Miners played about as well as can be in the first eight minutes, rolling out to a 29-7 lead. UTEP started 10-for-13 from the field, 5-for-5 from three-point range and 4-for-4 from the line.

Charlotte scored the next seven points – all from Andrien White — to get within 15 (29-14). But the Miners responded with an 11-4 spurt, including seven straight points by Paul Thomas, to match their largest lead of the half at 40-18.

After the 49ers closed the gap to 13 (42-29), Kobe Magee hit back-to-back triples off the bench to push the lead to 19. But Charlotte ended the period with a 16-5 run, and pulled within eight (53-45) at the break. Austin Ajukwa, averaging 7.8 points per game, scored 13 of the 49ers’ last 16 points in the half. He finished with a season-high 24, and scored 22 of Charlotte’s 32 points at the end of the first half and beginning of the second.

Jon Davis’ jumper with 15:24 remaining put Charlotte ahead 63-61, its first lead since 2-0. The next several minutes were nip and tuck until the 49ers gained some separation with a 9-3 run, ending with a three-pointer by Jaylan McGill and an 82-75 lead with 5:59 to go.

But the Miners persevered when the situation appeared dire.

“That’s my biggest challenge, to keep the guys relaxed and play hard and keep them competitive,” Johnson said. “I’m really proud of the team because we had a great practice last night and came and fought our butts off here today. It was a great basketball game. I give Charlotte credit. They played too. It was as hard fought of a game as we’ve seen this season.”

Charlotte scored four points in the final 5:58 with one field goal and the Miners went to work on the offensive end, outscoring the 49ers 12-4 and finally regaining the lead on Thomas’ game winner.

Evan Gilyard scored a career-high 22 points, and Osborne added 21 for the Miners. Thomas recorded his second straight double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

“We started Evan tonight for two reasons,” Johnson said. “He was great in practice last night. But defensively on Davis, he did a pretty good job until he got in foul trouble. And Isiah, we’ve seen him in the past where he can really shoot it and drive it. We tried to get him more involved tonight.”

White scored 21 points for Charlotte and Davis had 12.

The Miners will continue their road trip at Old Dominion on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. MT, and the game will be streamed live on ESPN3.

KCOS ARTAUCTION ARTISTS 2018-02-28 728X90