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Rotich up in the big leagues in track

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

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Veronica Enriquez / The Prospector

Sophomore distance runner Anthony Rotich practices at Kidd field in preparation for the Husky Classic at Seattle, Wash., Feb. 8-9.

   After a surprising first season with the UTEP track and field team, sophomore distance runner Anthony Rotich is aiming even higher for his second season as a Miner.

“He came from Kenya less than 12 months ago, and I think he has progressed a lot since then, he was able to get to the national meet in the 3,000 steeplechase and ended it finishing in sixth place,” said Paul Ereng, cross county head coach and track associate coach.“For the cross country season he came back with a lot of strength and in better shape and he just keeps getting better.”

Rotich said by the time he was in fifth grade he knew he had potential, and he started to compete in track when he got to high school.

After being offered a scholarship to come to UTEP, Rotich surprised many in his first season. The Kenya native finished 2nd place at the Conference-USA Cross Country Championships and also qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, where he finished sixth in the final of the 3,000 meters steeplechase with a time of 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

“Even though I knew I had potential I wasn’t expecting to have those kind of results,” Rotich said. “It wasn’t completely unexpected.”

Now in his sophomore year, Rotich is looking to do even better than last year. During the Cherry and Silver Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. He finished with the best time in the nation after altitude conversions.

Rotich clocked in the third-fastest time in the nation in the 5,000 meter at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., Feb. 8, with a time of 13:35.58. He is now ranked nationally in the top-five in three events, the mile with a time of 3:57.76, the 3,000 meter with a time of 7:59.40 and the 5,000 meter. He clocked in a personal-best time of 7:53.43 in the 3,000 meter Feb. 9 at the meet. His time ranks him 10th in the nation according to the Track and Field Results Reporting System.

“We’ve laid a lot of emphasis on mileage, and we are not at a point where we try to put him in the best shape because we still have a very long season in the way,” Ereng Said. “We have the indoor season from here to March and the outdoor follows until June, so we have to be careful on how much we take from him, if we do it too early he might not be able to finish the season.”

One of the pillars to Rotich’s success is not only his skills and hard work, but also his teammate and fellow countryman, junior distance runner, Elkana Rotich, who has aided him in and outside the track. “We have a good friendship, we used to live close to each other in Kenya,” Elkana Rotich said. “He is a great person, a very nice guy, a little quiet, but a very nice guy.”

The 2013 season looks  promising for Anthony Rotich.

“I believe I can do something special for UTEP, and also for myself,” Anthony Rotich said. “Since I came here, I’ve been thinking how I can appreciate what UTEP has given me. I really want to do something special for the scholarship they gave me.”

Head coach, Mika Laaksonen, has been thrilled to see the improvement in Anthony Rotich on a daily basis, but he knows there is still a long way in the season for the distance runner.

“He is getting better every single day,” Laaksonen said. “Right now we’re still not sure of his limits or if he has any.”

 Ereng, also a native of Kenya, has been part of UTEP for 10 years and he won an Olympic gold medal in Seoul, 1988.

“He and I get along very well, and I understand what he wants,” Ereng said. “Maybe in a year or two he should be among the guys who will be running in the World Championships or maybe in the Olympics in 2016, but that’s further down the road.  We look forward to that.”

Edwin Delgado may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

 

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