Irving, Texas – Freshmen sensation Tobi Amusan was named the 2016 Conference USA Track Athlete of the Year Friday morning. C-USA track and field head coaches from around the league voted on the awards.
“It has been a privilege to see how this young lady has opened up her career her at UTEP,” head coach Mika Laaksonen said. “Tobi is not only a great athlete, but an excellent student as well. We couldn’t have really asked for much more from a freshman student-athlete.”
Amusan becomes only the second athlete for UTEP since it joined C-USA in 2006 to win this prestigious award (Blessing Okagbare/2010). She capped off her spectacular freshman campaign last weekend in Eugene, Ore. at the NCAA Championships with a second-place showing in the 100m hurdles with a wind-aided time of 12.79.
“During the recruiting process, we were told that she is the ‘next Blessing Okagbare,”, Laaksonen mentioned. “When this skinny little girl arrived at UTEP this January, it was kind of difficult to visualize her dominating her competitors the way Blessing did. Now, after her first season here, she has definitely made me a believer.”
Her fastest wind-legal race of the season came at the UTEP Invitational on April 30th. The Nigeria native clocked her best time ever with a readout of 12.83 seconds to take gold. The time was monumental on several different levels: first, it broke Kim Turner’s (12.95) 33-year old school record by .12 seconds. Secondly, it was, at the time, the fourth-fastest time run in the world; the time now ranks 20th quickest in 2016. Thirdly, it was the second-fastest time ever run by an athlete under the age of 20 in the world and is both a Nigerian and African Junior record.
“Her achievement of running the second-fastest 100m hurdle time ever as a junior speaks volumes of Tobi’s abilities as an athlete,” Laaksonen noted.
The school record holder did not lose a 100m hurdle race during the outdoor season until the NCAA Championships; she captured gold at the C-USA Championships (13.06w), UTEP Invitational (12.83), Texas Relays (13.12) and the UTEP Springtime (13.06).
Amusan was named the Freshman of the Meet and High Point Scorer at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships. She took first place in the 100m hurdles, 200m dash (23.27) and second place in the long jump (6.06m) to amass a whopping 28 points. She ranked No. 1 in C-USA Outdoors in the 200m dash (23.27), 100m hurdles (12.83) and No. 2 in the 100m dash (11.50) and No. 3 in the long jump (6.19m).
After arriving in El Paso in mid-January, she sprung right into action for indoor season. She ran eight 60m hurdle races during indoors and she shaved time off of her personal best every race. She peaked at the Conference USA Indoor Championships with the third-best time in school history (8.23) to take gold. She also was able to place seventh in the long jump (5.84m) to earn two additional points. Her 12 total points helped the UTEP women’s team claim its second consecutive C-USA title.
Overall, she won nine events as a freshman between the long jump, 100m hurdles and the 4x100m relay. Amusan is now getting prepped for the IAAF U20 Championships, which will be held in Bydgoszcz, Poland on July 19-24.
“We wish her best of luck at the World Junior Championships this summer and hopes she brings home the gold,” said Laaksonen.