College Station, Texas – Two freshmen (Brittney Trought/60m hurdles and Jonah Koech/800m run) and a sophomore (Lilian Koech/mile) etched their names in the UTEP history book with top-five program performances in their respective events; Trought took gold while Lilian Koech and Jonah Koech took bronze.
“Very excited about some of our young athletes and what they accomplished,” head coach Mika Laaksonen said. “Winny (Koech) beat one of the best runners in C-USA today (Cali Roper-Rice). Cali has been a force in our conference for a while and to beat her head to head says something.“
The women’s team scored a total of 64 points to finish fifth behind schools such as Texas A&M (144 points), Arkansas (102 points), Clemson (93 points) and Baylor (66 points). The men’s team was only able to mustard 14 team points and placed 11th.
Trought clocked an initial time of 8.54 in the prelims and then followed that up with an outstanding personal best time of 8.36 in the finals to win gold. Her time in the finals is the fastest in Conference USA this year and ranks fifth all-time in program history. Freshman Tobi Amusan wasn’t too far off of Trought’s pace and clocked times of 8.64 (prelims) and 8.60 (finals) to garner bronze.
“She (Trought) has been very impressive since joining the team,” Laaksonen noted. “Winning gold as a freshman with a time of 8.36 is very special.”
Lilian Koech dazzled in the mile run with a blazing personal best time of 4:44.71 to finish in third place. The sophomore’s time ranks No. 1 in C-USA by more than five seconds and is the fourth fastest in UTEP history.
Jonah Koech nearly fell at the start of the 800m run, but he recomposed himself to finish with a solid time of 1:49.14. His time earned him bronze behind the NCAA leader Donavan Brazier (Texas A&M). Koech’s mark ranks second in C-USA this year and is the fifth-best 800m time ever run indoors for a UTEP runner. Daniel Tarango picked up a personal best time in the 800m run with a readout of 1:53.66 to finish 11th in a field of 28 runners.
“Jonah did respectfully in his first 800m run,” Laaksonen acknowledged. “I don’t think it was what he was expecting. The 800m run is a very tactical race and he has never run indoors before, so it will only get better from here.”
Winny Koech captured gold in the 3,000m run with a personal best time of 9:36.41 to beat a field of 21 runners. Her time is the fastest in C-USA this year and is the seventh fastest in program history. Fellow Kenyan Gladys Jerotich earned herself a personal best with a time of 10:01.31 to place seventh in the 3,000m run. On the men’s side, Antony Kosgei registered a personal best with a readout of 8:23.75 in the 3,000m run to place seventh.
In the field events, UTEP had four strong showings. Senior Nickevea Wilson launched herself 12.54m (41-1.75) in the triple jump to secure silver. Sophomore Tyler Ragin collected a personal best with a bound of 5.62m (18-5.25) in the long jump on her way to a fifth-place showing.
In the throws, Samantha Hall recorded a personal best in the shot put (13.62m/44-8.25) to finish seventh. Fayon Gonzales picked up a fourth-place finish in the weight throw with a heave of 17.45m (57-3.00).
Sven Zellner won his 60m hurdle prelim heat with a time of 8.29 and he followed that up with a 8.18 in the finals to place sixth.
In the 400m dash, Ada Benjamin (55.11) and Florence Uwakwe (55.93) finished eighth and 15th respectively in a field of 42 athletes. Imani Adams (57.12) and Dreshanae Rolle (57.73) both clocked personal bests.
In the first event of the day, three Miners recorded personal bests in the 60m dash; Amusan ran a 7.69, Alexis Roberts clocked an 8.03 and Rebecca Oshinbanjo ran a 8.20 in her UTEP debut, but no athlete was able to advance to the finals.
A majority of the Miners will head to Albuquerque, N.M. next weekend and a select few distance runners will head to Seattle, Wash., for their final tune up before the C-USA Championships (Feb. 24-25).