Photo: Michael Patrick Reese | UTEP
The UTEP cross country team is set to travel to Logan, Utah to compete in the NCAA Mountain Regionals on Friday at the Steve & Dona Reeder Cross Country Course.
The Utah State University men’s and women’s cross country programs will host the 2016 NCAA Mountain Regional. The women’s race (6K) is slated to begin at 11 a.m. MT and the men’s (10K) will follow at 12 p.m. MT. There are 17 teams set to compete in each race.
After defending the Conference USA Championship title, The UTEP men’s team enters the postseason ranked No. 15 nationally and fourth in the Mountain Region. The Miners seek to secure a position in the NCAA Championships as a team for a third-straight year.
UTEP men’s team will run against the top-three nationally ranked programs: No. 1 Northern Arizona, No. 2 Colorado, and No. 3 BYU. Colorado took the title last year in 2015 for a second consecutive year, winning in 2014 as well.
Jonah Koech will lead the Orange and Blue. In last year’s Mountain Regional meet, Koech became only the second runner in UTEP program history (Anthony Rotich-2014) to win an NCAA Mountain Regional. He took the title with a 10K time of (29:57.50).
Senior Cosmas Boit and Antony Kosgei will also be part of the leading group for the Miners. Boit has finished in the top-20 in every race participated in thus far, including third-place at conference, and ninth at the NCAA Pre Nationals. At last years regionals meet, Boit turned in a valiant effort on his way to a 13th-place showing with a 10K time of 30:16.89.
Kosegi has finished no worse than tenth-place all season, and has been a top finisher for the Miners all year. The sophomore will look to improve his 28th place finish (30:49.66.) at last year’s regional meet.
Daniel Cheruiyot (31:16.38/35th) and Evans Kiprono (31:41.58/45th) were the final finishers for UTEP during last season’s regional meet. Cheuiyot has notched three top-ten showings this season, and Kiprono looks to deliver a solid performance. The senior took silver in the 10K event at the 2015 C-USA Outdoor Championships.
Michael Saruni and Emmanuel Korir will be rookies to the course. Saruni cruised in at sixth-place at conference and earned first team honors. This will be the first 10K race for both freshmen.
On the women’s side, the Miners are running against four nationally ranked teams: No. 1 Colorado, No. 6 New Mexico, No. 18 BYU, and No. 29 Air Force. The Miners seek to advance to the NCAA Championships
Freshman Winny Koech and sophomore Lilian Koech will be the duo leading the Miners. Winny Koech’s individual victory at conference led the women’s team to a third-place title. The freshman ran a season-best 5K time of 16:56.60. Lilian Koech has registered four top-ten completions, including first at Notre Dame (5K/ 17:15.6). Last season, she paced the way for the Orange and Blue by clocking a 6K time of 22:00.64 to place 37th.
Mountain Regional returnees Gladys Jerotich and Truphena Sum seek to improve their times from last season. Jerotich came in at 47th place (22:16.84), while Sum clocked a 6K time of 23:49.90.
Linda Cheruiyot, Kayla Pallares, and Veronica Alvarez are all rookies to the Mountain Regional meet. Cheruiyot has been trailing along with the leading pack for UTEP throughout the season, with her best performance at Notre Dame with 20th place (5K/17:41.90).