Photo: Michael Patrick Reese | UTEP
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The UTEP men’s and women’s cross country had an impressive performance at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. On a cloudy and cool Friday afternoon, the men’s team took silver while the women’s team claimed bronze.
The UTEP men’s No. 18th nationally ranked finished with a tally of 99 points and were closely nipped by No. 20 Ole Miss who claimed the title with 83 points. The Miners beat out No. 9 Eastern Kentucky by a landslide as they totaled 168 points.
“I am very proud of both men’s and women’s performances today,” head coah Paul Ereng said. “Both teams did a wonderful job, especially the courageous display efforts of front-running shown by Koech, Kosgei, Boit, Saruni, and Cheruiyot in the men’s race.”
Jonah Koech who clocked a fifth-place 8K finish of 23:52.6 led the Miners throughout the race in a field of 202 runners. Koech managed to stay atop of the pack as he averaged a mile time of 4:46.5. The defining moment came down to the final kilometer where Ole Miss edged past to the finish.
Sophomore Antony Kosgei ran stride for stride with the front leading pack of the group during most of the race. He registered seventh-place finish with a personal-best mark of 23.55.0 to improve his 8K performance from last year’s Notre Dame Invite (29th/24.20.6).
Cosmas Boit completed his final Notre Dame Invite by crossing the line at 18th place (24:06.9), and also improved his time from last year (24:07.5). Freshman Michael Saruni cruised through his first 8K to come in 28th as he registered a 24:13.1 completion.
Daniel Cheruiyot was another veteran in this race who improved from last year’s performance (42nd/24:33.1). He recorded an 8K time of 24:24.1 to take 41st place.
Rounding out the men’s race was Evans Kiprono (25:41.4) who placed 166th, and newcomer Emmanuel Korir (25:44.6) for 171st and a personal best 8K finishing time.
The women’s team achieved third place overall in the gold race for a distance of 5K, with a total of 178 points, and had three runners finish in the top 20 spots. Notre Dame’s B-team barely eclipsed second-place with 171 points.
Sophomore Lilian Koech (17:15.6) was the leading runner throughout the entire race to take the crown in a course of 212 competitors. This was her third individual victory of the season.
Gladys Jerotich had a better turnout in this year’s race compared to last year’s. The sophomore registered eighth-place with a readout of 17:32.4.
The newcomers for the Miners’ women’s teams proved impressive efforts. Freshman Linda Cheruiyot ran her first Notre Dame Invite in 17:41.9 to clinch the 20th spot, while Winny Koech (18:02.5) trailed behind to secure 46th.
Kayla Pallares (105th) ran a season-best 5K time of 18:37.6. Truphena Sum (189th/19:43.8) ran in her last Notre Dame Invite as well.
To round out the women’s efforts, Veronica Alvarez (215th) earned a personal best 5K time of 20:56.5.
“I am very proud of the efforts all the runners put in their races and even those who didn’t get in the top five spots know their time is coming soon,” coach Ereng said.
The Miners continue the action in two weeks when they head to Terre Haute, Ind. where they will compete in NCAA Pre Nationals.