The UTEP men’s and women’s cross country teams are headed to Charlotte, N.C. for the 2016 Conference USA Championships.
C-USA Championships will be held at Frank Liske Park hosted by Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 29. The women will run a 5K race at 7 a.m. MT, followed by the 8K men’s race at 8 a.m. MT.
A total of 11 men’s teams and 13 women’s teams will be in participation: Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, UTEP, UTSA, Western Kentucky; Southern Miss and UAB only have women’s teams.
The UTEP men’s team enters conference championships ranked No. 21 in the nation in the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association poll. They seek a second-straight and sixth total conference title.
Last year at the 2015 C-USA Championships the men displayed an outstanding performance. They were crowned the C-USA champions for the first time since 2009, and placed five runners inside the top-seven. Five runners were also named to the All-Conference First Team (top-seven finishers).
The men’s team has five conference titles under their belts (2015, 2009, 2007, 2006, and 2005) since joining the league in 2005.
The UTEP men’s cross country team was picked to finish first as they notched nine first-place votes in the Preseason Conference USA poll announced by the league in August.
The men’s team has a decent competition laid out. Fellow Conference USA foe Middle Tennessee men’s team is currently sitting at No. 29 in the country. The Blue Raiders ended the regular season at UTC Front Runner Invitational (Oct. 15) with a perfect score (15 points), placing one through six, to earn the team title.
UTEP team leader Jonah Koech was named Freshman of the Meet at last year’s championships as he finished second with an 8K mark of 24:44.4. After proving to be a successful top finisher for UTEP, the sophomore seeks to secure an individual title at the conference meet this year.
Cosmas Boit, a three-time Conference USA First Team member, and Daniel Cheruiyot will run their final C-USA Championship. Last year Boit earned his third-straight first team honor with a time of 24:45.0 to place third. Cheruiyot (24:54.0/7th place) achieved his second First Team All-Conference honor.
Antony Kosgei has demonstrated his talents this season, achieving top-ten finishes in all four meets competed in, including a seventh-place 8K finish at Notre Dame (23:55.0), and a 10th place showing at Pre Nationals (8K/ 24:13.10). In his first C-USA Championships last year, Kosgei earned First Team all-conference honors (24: 53.1/6th).
Senior Evans Kiprono rounds out the veteran returnees as he prepares to run in his last C-USA Championships as well. As a junior, Kiprono finished for 30th place (26:02.1) at the conference meet.
Freshmen Michael Saruni and Emmanuel Korir will run their first career conference meet; Saruni crossed the line at 32nd place at Pre Nationals in a highly competitive field while Korir registered an 8K time of 25:48.4 to come in at 177th.
Sophomore Lilian Koech, the 2015 Freshman of the Meet, looks to improve upon her 11th-place finish last year in the 5K (18:05.6). She has already beaten last year’s finishing 5K time in two meets this season at the Kachina Classic and at Notre Dame (17:34. 36, and 17:15.60) in which both races she won first place. Koech was also named to the 2015 All Conference USA Second Team.
Fellow sophomore Gladys Jerotich is another pace setter for the Miners. Jerotich was named to the all conference third team for her 18th-place showing with a time of 18:24.4 as a freshman in 2015.
Freshmen Winny Koech and Linda Cheruiyot will go into their first C-USA Championships with something to show for as they both have a handful of individual achievements. Koech clinched third place at Pre Nationals (20:57.60) in the 6K while Cheruiyot secured 21st place (21:45.70).
Senior Truphena is a seasoned veteran for the Orange and Blue; this Saturday she will compete in her last C-USA Championships. The senior placed 62nd place (19:45.0) in the 5K at last year’s meet.
Concluding the squad for the women will be, Kayla Pallares, and Veronica Alvarez. Pallares and Alvarez will experience C-USA Championships for the first time with the Miners. Pallares was the fifth finisher for UTEP at Pre Nationals with a 6K time of 23:26.7 (124th place).