Runners ready for C-USA championships
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
The UTEP men’s and women’s cross country teams are coming off a solid performance at the 2012 NCAA Pre-National meet in Louisville, Ky., where both senior Risper Kimaiyo and freshman Anthony Rotich earned Conference USA athletes of the week.
The meet consisted of an 8K race, where the men’s team competed against 40 universities including No. 3 BYU, No. 7 Colorado, No. 9 Tulsa, No. 14 Florida State and No. 15 Oregon.
The women’s team competed against 38 teams including No. 1 Florida State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 8 Michigan and No. 18 Colorado.
Out of 271 runners, Rotich finished first, clocking in at a personal best time of 23 minutes, 01.00 seconds, in the 8K race.
“Going in as a freshman, I never expected to win this particular race,” Rotich said. “There were a lot of runners with more experience and faster times but I focused on the trail and my determination, and before I knew it I was in the lead.”
Fellow Miners, freshman Elphas Maiyo took 31st place with a personal best time of 23:54.2, while senior Elkana Rotich secured the 73rd spot with a season best of 24:16.1.
For the women, Kimaiyo took second place with a finish time of 19:46.0 in the women’s 6K race. Senior Karina Garcia was the second Miner to cross the finish line for the team with a time of 21:40.9.
The Miners finished 19th out of the 40 teams that competed.
The 13 student-athletes who make up UTEP’s men and women’s cross-country teams have learned to embrace the demand of the trail, and push themselves to be top Conference USA contenders.
“I love cross country because of the distance,” Maiyo said. “My mind is clear and I am focused on the trail 100 percent. The hardest thing is trying to maintain the pace of the people, there are no time outs, once you start you have to finish, and it requires a lot from one’s body.”
This season, the Miners have competed in three major races: the annual Lori Fitzgerald Invitational held in Horizon City’s own Emerald Springs Golf Course, the Kachina Classic in Las Cruces and the Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla.
UTEP dominated each race, ending each meet with either a first or second place win.
At the Lori Fitzgerald Invitational, Kimaiyo finished first in the female competition while Anthony Rotich, among the men, secured the top spot for the Miners, with a total of 29 points.
A week later, the men’s cross-country team claimed their second straight crown with 29 points at the Kachina Classic at Las Cruces. Defeating UTEP’s I-10 rivals, the NM State Aggies for the second time in two weeks.
For the women’s team, Garcia posted a season-best of 18:33 and ultimately winning fifth place among the women at the Kachina Classic.
After about two weeks off, the Miners will be heading the 2012 Conference USA Championships, being held in Hattiesburg, Mississippi at the end of October.
Finishing in second place at last year’s championship, the Miners are a strong contender for the title this year, and will stop at nothing to put forth their best effort for the competition.
“We have strong teams that are performing well so anything is possible,” head coach Paul Ereng said. “They all have been practicing really hard and averaging about 90 miles a week as a team so the hard work is there, now we just have to see how everything will play out on the trail.”
Audrey Westcott may be reached at email@example.com.