FILE: Winny Koech | Courtesy UTEP Athletics
It was a great day for UTEP cross country. Freshman Winny Koech secured a spot as an individual at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., next weekend.
Standout freshman Winny Koech ran an amazing race in her first NCAA Mountain Regional meet. Koech crossed the line at second-place overall in a field of nationally ranked competitors. She kept up with the front-leading pack of runners, which included a herd of No. Colorado runners.
Koech’s stellar effort’s earned her an individual spot in the NCAA Championships next weekend. The last time an individual member from the women’s team qualified for nationals was in 2012 (Risper Kimaiyo).
“The women’s team led was by Winny who earned a very solid second place,” head coach Paul Ereng said. “Their ninth-place finish is a better performance, considering they were ranked No. 12 in the region coming here.”
On the men’s side, No. 15 UTEP ran in a stacked field including five other opponents also ranked in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll. The Miners had four runners complete the 10K in the top-30, to place fifth overall with 122 points, just behind No. 19 Colorado State (4th/114 points).
No. 1 Northern Arizona (60 points), and No. 2 Colorado (76 points) took first and second-place, respectively to secure automatic berths in the NCAA Championship next weekend.
The Miners still have a high chance of being selected to go to the big dance. The USTFCCCA will announce the official NCAA Championships field Saturday at 11 a.m. MT.
“I believe this is a solid outing that should see the men to nationals,” Ereng said. “I am pleased by both the men’s and women’s performances today.”
Jonah Koech was the first to finish for the Miners. The sophomore took silver overall in the men’s 10K with a time of 30:58.6.
Sophomore Antony Kosgei was the second finisher for the Miners. He crossed the line in 13th-place with a time of 31:12.80. Following Kosgei was Cosmas Boit, who ran his final NCAA Mountain Regional. The senior valiantly completed his final regional meet in 19th-place (31:18.6).
Michael Saruni was the fourth finisher for UTEP. The up-and-coming freshman ran his first career 10K and completed it for 29th place (31:39.2).
Daniel Cheruiyot (59th/ 32:24.6), Evans Kiprono (64th/ 32:38.8), and Emmanuel Korir (83rd/ 33:35.7) rounded out the men’s efforts.
The women put up a strong performance in a highly competitive field featuring four nationally ranked teams. The Miners finished ninth overall with 233 points. No. 1 nationally ranked Colorado took the Mountain Regional championship with 35 points, followed by No. 6 New Mexico (109 points).
Lilian Koech ran a season-best 6K time of 20:54.30 to take 24th place. The sophomore improved her 6K time of 21:07.2 at the NCAA Pre Nationals (Oct. 15).
Fellow sophomore Gladys Jerotich also improved her 6K time. She registered a season-best time of 21:27.5, improving from her time at Pre Nationals (22.03.0).
Freshman Linda Cheruiyot displayed an impressive performance at her first NCAA Mountain Regionals. She followed with readout of 21:38.5 (55th place).
Kayla Pallares (105th/ 22:48.10), Truphena Sum (122nd/ 23:26.20), and Veronica Alvarez (135th/ 25:44.8) were the final finishers for the Orange and Blue.
NCAA Championships will be held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 19.