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Anthony Rotich earns national title

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 15:06

special to the prospector

Special to The Prospector

Sophomore Anthony Rotich finished in first place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Sophomore distance runner Anthony Rotich claimed gold in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. 

A total of nine Miners competed from June 5-8 at Hayward Field.

Rotich, who last year as a freshman finished sixth, knew he was facing runners with more experience.

“Before the race, the plan was to make a move with 400 meters to go and just run through the line,” Rotich said. “I was just bent on finishing and would be happy with that, because I knew I was going up against experienced runners, but my coach told me that anyone could win this race no matter what. It was then that I knew I could win this race, if I stayed focused and gave it everything I had.” 

Throughout the race, Rotich consistently held a place within the top three runners. In the final lap of the race it came down to him and senior Henry Lelei from Texas A&M.

Both contestants battled for the leading spot, making it very close. It all came down to the final water barrier where Lelei fell while jumping over the barrier, which gave Rotich just enough to time to take the lead, running through the finish line with a personal-best time of 8:21.19. 

“At first, I thought it was me who fell down,” Rotich said. “Then when I looked to the left I saw that Lelei fell down. I knew I had the win, so I pushed my hardest to finish.”

Rotich’s time breaks UTEP’s record in the steeplechase and is the seventh-fastest collegiate time. 

“Winning was an awesome feeling, but I did not win this,” Rotich said. “My team won this. Without the training and time from our coaches, and the constant support from teammates I would have not won the race. It was a united effort, and I give this honor to them because it was not just me out there.”

Rotich is UTEP’s first NCAA champion on the men’s team since 2008, when Mickael Hanany won the high jump.

With four days full of action, the team fought hard to have their efforts recognized.

The Miners return home with one National Champion, three All-American first-team honorees and one All-American second-team recipient. 

Senior Risper Kimaiyo, junior Janice Jackson and sophomore Nickevea Wilson represented the UTEP women’s team at the national meet.

Kimaiyo completed her college career with her seventh All-American honor. With a time of 34:03.35, she secured an eighth place finish in the 10,000-m.

Jackson finished with a personal-best mark, clocking in a time of 13.06 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, Jackson, also earned her first All-American honor on the final day of the NCAA championships. 

 In her first season as a Miner, Wilson finished 17th overall with a personal-best leap of 12.77m (41-10.75).

Rounding out the individual awards for the Miners was Mark Jackson who finished 10th out of 24 jumpers, with a leap of 15.87m (52-.075). Despite falling short of the finals by one spot, he earned himself a spot in the All-American second team.  

The men’s relay team also earned a trip to the championship after they clocked in a personal-best time of 3:06.88. at the NCAA West Preliminary Round.

Freshmen Carnell Horn and Daniel Tarango and sophomores A-Shawni Mitchell and Abiola Onakoya finished seventh in the fastest heat of the day, putting the team in 18th place overall.

“I think this was one of our better national meets in a while,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “We haven’t had a national champion since 2008. I’m very proud of everybody’s effort this week because nobody had a bad meet. This is all positive and good to build on for next year.”

Audrey Westcott may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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