Photo: Michael Patrick Reese | UTEP
CHARLOTTE, N.C.– The UTEP men’s cross country team captured the 2016 Conference USA Championships team title for the second consecutive year. The Miners tallied a total of 24 points to defend their championship title at the Frank Liske Park in Charlotte, N.C.
This is the team’s second-straight conference title, where last year they earned the win for the first time since 2009, and the sixth title in 12 years with C-USA.
It was a tough 8K course with changes in elevation, gravel roads, and slick, dewy grass hills. Conference USA opponent Middle Tennessee set a close competition. The Blue Raiders trailed alongside UTEP throughout the entire race. However, the Miners had a little more juice and pushed through to take the crown. Middle Tennessee followed in for second-place with 36 points. Charlotte took third with 92 points.
The UTEP men’s team placed four runners in the Conference USA First Team (top-seven finishers) for their impressive performance. Jonah Koech secured the second-place position, with an 8K time of 24:05.3, and first team honors.
Outstanding Senior of the Meet, Cosmas Boit, completed his final C-USA meet with a bang. Boit crossed the line at third-place with a season-best 8K time of24:05.7, to earn his fourth first-team honor. Sophomore Antony Kosgei was the third finisher for the Miners, and clocked a time of 24:15.3 for fifth-place. Kosgei was also named to the All-Conference First Team.
Freshman Michael Saruni proved his talents at his first conference meet. Saruni completed the intense course at sixth-place and earned first team honors with an 8K mark of 24:16.2.
Daniel Cheruiyot was named to the All-Conference Second Team, clinching eighth-place (24:26.6). Senior Evans Kiprono concluded his final conference meet with a 21st-place showing and personal-best 25:32.2, as well as All Conference Third Team honors.
Freshman Emmanuel Korir (25th/ 25:45.4) rounded out the Orange and Blue’s victorious efforts in his first run at conference championships
The UTEP women’s team ran a close 5K course with a high competition level as well, however the difficulties did not impede their efforts. After staying with the lead pack throughout the entire race, the Miners amassed third place overall with 100 points. Middle Tennessee finished second (89 points), and Rice took the title with 48 points.
C-USA Freshman of the Meet, Winny Koech, led the Miners to their success. In her first C-USA Championships, the freshman took the individual championship with an impressive 5K season-best time of 16:56.6. The standout freshman was also awarded first team honors.
Sophomore Lilian Koech cruised second for the Miners, and claimed bronze overall (17:81.1), as well as first-team honors. Fellow sophomore Gladys Jerotich was the third finisher for the Miners (11th overall) with a time of 17:48.9, and second team honors.
Kayla Pallares was the fourth finisher for the Miners, earning 37th-place (18:45.2) in her first conference championships meet. Senior Truphena Sum (51st/19:08.8) and Veronica Alvarez (85th/20:22.6) finalized the women’s team’s efforts.
Head coach Paul Ereng was also awarded for his tremendous coaching abilities and was named Conference USA Coach of the Year.
After an incredible conference performance from both men’s and women’s teams, UTEP cross country now aim its efforts at the NCAA Mountain Regionals in two weeks in Logan, Utah.