On a cool, crisp and damp morning in Las Cruces, N.M., the men’s and women’s cross country teams turned in stellar performances at the Kachina Classic. Running against New Mexico State and El Paso Community College, the Miners cruised to dominant victories for both the men and women.
For the third straight event, Lilian Koech and Gladys Jerotich notched first and second-place showings. Koech took gold with a 5K time of 18:05.26 and Jerotich followed with a mark of 18:10.73. Standout sophomore Joan Jepkirui notched her second-consecutive third-place finish with a readout of 18:29.00.
“Our top three finishers can be competitors on the national level,” head coach Paul Ereng said. “We have to find a way to bring the other three along to accompany their performances.”
Truphena Sum (19:24.03) turned in her third top-10 performance of the year with a seventh-place showing. Lilliana Valdespino (21:28.99) earned a 19th-place finish and Yara Cortez-Alaniz (22:12.56) placed 22nd.
The women’s team final score was 41 which was enough to edge New Mexico State (47 points) and EPCC (84 points).
For the third-straight event, a new Miner claimed his first cross country individual title. Freshman Jonah Koech clocked an 7K time of 20:44.20 to barely edge senior Anthony Rotich (20:44.60).
When asked about what the team needs to improve upon before the first national meet (Notre Dame Invitational/Oct. 2), Coach Ereng elaborated. “The main thing for the men is to keep them as close as possible,” Ereng noted. “I was very impressed with the work the guys put in today.”
Antony Kosgei (21:00.49) was about 15 seconds off of Koech’s winning time to take bronze. Daniel Cheruiyot (21:32.52) earned fifth place and Evans Kiprono (22:05.59) crossed the finish line in seventh place.
The men were charged with 16 points and easily knocked off New Mexico State (46 points) and EPCC (60 points.)
The Miners next meet will be in two weeks at the Notre Dame Invitational (Oct. 2.)
Author: UTEP Athletics