The 1988 Olympic gold medalist, Paul Ereng became the first Kenyan to take a collegiate coaching job in the United States when he was named UTEP's cross country and distance coach on Aug. 8, 2003. Ereng was promoted to Track and Field Associate Head Coach on April 14, 2010. Now in his 10th season at UTEP, Ereng has elevated the Miners distance runners to a new level of excellence.
Ereng has tutored two NCAA champions, 43 NCAA All-Americans, 95 conference champions and four NCAA regional champions. He also has eight athletes that were named conference Athlete of the Year and 11 that gained conference Freshman of the Year honors. He had two runners earn conference Newcomer of the Year honors and four C-USA Outstanding Seniors. In addition, Ereng had 28 individuals qualify for the NCAA track and field championships and 29 individuals qualify for the NCAA cross country championships. Following the 2006 season, Ereng was named the national Assistant Coach of the Year for distance by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
During the cross country season, Ereng mentored the men’s team to its second consecutive C-USA title tallying 24 points. Four Miners earned first team recognition, while Cosmas Boit was named Outstanding Senior of the Meet. The men’s team went on to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships for the third-straight year.
On the women’s side, Winny Koech was named the 2016 C-USA Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year. The distance runner claimed the conference crown with a personal-best time of 16:56.6 in the 5K. Koech went on to post a silver medal finish at the NCAA Mountain Regionals running her fastest 6K with a time of 20:17.1. The freshman capped off her cross country season with a NCAA Championship appearance.
During the indoor season, Ereng helped the women’s team secure its second consecutive C-USA Indoor title. Lilian Koech competed in the 800m, mile and 3,000m run earning points for the Miners in all three events. Koech claimed the crown in the mile, while Winny Koech earned a bronze medal in the 5,000m.
On the men’s side, Jonah Koech posted the 15th fastest time of the season in the mile at the Don Kirby Invitational with a time of 4:03.43. He claimed gold at the C-USA Championships in the mile and went on to compete at the NCAA Championships. Koech advanced to the NCAA Championships final in the mile and earned All-American honors with a sixth-place finish.
Koech continued to excel during the outdoor season registering the 18th-fastest time of the season in the 800m run (1:46.84) at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational. The distance runner took a gold medal in the 1,500m and a silver medal in the 800m at the conference championships. Koech posted a personal-best time of 1:45.53 in the 800m at the NCAA Championships posting a ninth-place finish.
In the fall of 2015, Ereng led the men’s cross country team to its first team conference title since 2009; this title was the fifth during Ereng’s tenure. UTEP placed five runners inside the top seven and won the team title with 19 points. It was the first time since the team scored a perfect 15 points at the 2009 C-USA Championships that UTEP placed five runners on the all-conference first team.
The men’s team reached a ranking as high as seventh in the country prior to the NCAA Championships. They scraped out an 11th-place showing at the NCAA Championships. Jonah Koech (11th place) was the first freshman in a field of 250+ runners to cross the finish line. Anthony Rotich followed closely with a 15th place finish.
During the 2015 track season, Ereng mentored three different Freshmen of the Meet for their performances at the conference championships. As part of the women’s team who won its first conference title in program history, freshman Joan Jepkirui was named Freshmen of the Meet for indoors. Jepkirui ran to a first-place finish in the 3,000m run (9:44.11) and a second-place showing in the 5,000m run (16:44.24).
When UTEP hosted the Outdoor Conference USA Championships, Lilian Koech and Daniel Cheruiyot were named Freshmen of the Meet. Koech did her best to lead a second-place UTEP team to victory by winning the 5,000m and 1,500m races. Cheruiyot scored in three races; he finished fifth in the 3,000m steeplechase, fourth in the 10,000m race and third in the 5,000m run.
He most recently mentored four-time NCAA Champion Anthony Rotich. In 2015, Rotich became the only the third man in NCAA Division I history to win three-consecutive 3,000m steeplechase national titles. He tallied an amazing 33 points in the event at the NCAA Championships during his four-year career: he finished sixth during his freshman year (three points) and he tallied ten points in each his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. That point total of 33 ranks second all-time in the NCAA; James Munyala (UTEP/1975-77) accumulated 38 points during his tenure.
The steeplechase champion was also the 2014 NCAA indoor champion in the mile with a time of 4:02.54. Rotich became the first man in Division I history to win both the indoor mile and the 3000m steeplechase in the same academic year. He has been a mainstay on the Bowerman Watch List with eight appearances during his career and was a semi-finalist during the 2014 season.
Ereng has also guided Rotich to a dominating cross country career. Rotich claimed four consecutive C-USA Championship titles, and he also became only the third Miner in program history to be named a cross country All-American all four years of his career. The distance runner was also a two-time recipient of the USTFCCCA Mountain Region Athlete of the Year and a three-time C-USA Athlete of the Year. He is the first C-USA student-athlete, male or female, to ever win the award in consecutive years.
In 2014, Ereng directed the men's cross country to a silver finish at the C-USA Championships. With four runners finishing in the top-seven, UTEP placed four members on the All C-USA First Team. The Miners went on to earn a team spot in the NCAA cross country championships.
Ereng led the Miners to three straight Conference USA titles in cross country from 2005 to 2007 and has been on staff for five conference track and field titles.
In 2007, Ereng was named the C-USA Coach of the Year for the third time after leading UTEP to its third-consecutive cross country title. The Miners scored a meet record, perfect 15 points in winning the championship. UTEP won four meets during the season, setting two meet records, including one at the Lobo Invitational. Stephen Samoei earned All-America honors for the third consecutive year, by taking 20th at the NCAA Championships and was named C-USA's Athlete of the Year.
In 2007, Ereng mentored three All-Americans in the form of Fatimoh Muhammed, Elias Koech and Samoei. Koech was runner-up in the 800 while Muhammed was fourth and Samoei finished sixth.
In 2006, Samoei was the C-USA Athlete of the Year and Ng'etich was the C-USA Freshman of the Year and the C-USA Newcomer of the Year, as the squad set a conference meet record for points with 21.
Ereng had two All-Americans during the 2006 outdoor season, with C-USA Outdoor Athlete of the Year Mircea Bogdan taking second in the 3,000 steeplechase and Mutai finishing eighth in the steeplechase. Ereng's distance runners scored 87 out of 222 points, helping the Miners win the C-USA Outdoor title. Indoors he trained three All-Americans with Tanui finishing third in the 800, Koech taking seventh in the 800 and C-USA Indoor Athlete of the Year and Freshman of the Year Jenny Holmroos placing fifth in the 800. His distance runners chalked up 52.7 percent (88 of 167) of UTEP's points in winning the C-USA Indoor Championships.
In the fall of 2005, Ereng brought the UTEP men's cross country team back to the NCAA Championships for the first time in 13 years. The Miners finished 14th behind All-Americans Samoei (20th) and Ng'ojoy (22nd). Samoei was named C-USA's Runner of the Year.
UTEP advanced to the NCAA championships with a second-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Regional with Samoei (fourth), Ng'ojoy (fifth), Bogdan (ninth) and Mutai (14th) landing in the top 15.
Ereng led the Miners to their first-ever Conference USA title, scoring 23 points behind Mutai (first), Ng'ojoy (third), Samoei (fourth), Bogdan (fifth) and Joe Muñoz (10th). He was named the C-USA Coach of the Year.
In the spring of 2005, Ereng trained Bogdan to the NCAA title and Mutai to a fifth-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. His distance runners also played a major role in UTEP winning its final WAC title at the outdoor championships, scoring 93 of the Miners' 208.5 points. During the indoor season, he had Adriana Pirtea win the silver in the 3,000-meter run at the NCAA Championships.
Ereng came to UTEP after working for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as the technical director for the development of the youth of Africa from 2001-03. While working at the IAAF High Performance Training Center in Eldoret, Kenya, he trained young men and women middle to long distance runners from various African countries.
Ereng's runners won medals in the 800, 1,500, steeplechase, 5,000 and the 10,000 at the 2001 African Junior Championships in Mauritius.
Ereng coached Janeth Jepkosgei, who won the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championship title in the 800, and also had a fifth-place finisher on the men's side.
He molded current Olympic steeplechase champion Eziekiel Kemboi, who ranked third in the world in 2003 in the steeplechase (8:02.49). Kemboi was second in the steeplechase at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and was runner-up at the 2003 IAAF World Championships in Paris.
In cross country, he trained Simrate Sultan, a top-15 female for the 2003 World Junior Cross Country Championships, and Ali Abdalla, who finished 25th at the World Cross Country Championships on a men's 4K course.
In 2002, Ereng was appointed to head the Kenya World Junior Championships team, which finished second overall.
Along with his IAAF duties, Ereng started and coached the Eldoret Track and Field club.
He is certified by the IAAF with a level two standing for coaching middle and long distance events. He has been the President of the Africa Region V Track and Field Coaches Association, founder and executive member of the Kenya Coaches Commission, president of the National Association of Kenya Olympians and secretary general of the Rift Valley Province Track and Field Association.
Over the years, Ereng has been the recipient of many awards, honors and titles. In 2004 he was inducted into the Drake Relays' Hall of Fame. In 2003 he was given the all-time top-10 achievers medal in track and field by the Atlantic Coast Conference. He received the IAAF's lifetime athletics award in 2002. He was granted Kenya's highest title of the Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW) in 1990. He received the Jumbo Elliott Award for demonstrating quality and leadership off and on the track in 1989. He picked up the Henry Cummings Award as Virginia's top male athlete in 1989 as well.
As an athlete, Ereng was a three-time NCAA champion, a four-time NCAA All-American, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist in Seoul, twice the World Indoor Champion and a former world record holder.
As a freshman at the University of Virginia, Ereng won the 1988 NCAA Outdoor 800 title.
He emerged on the world scene by defeating Joaquim Cruz and Moroccan Said Aoiuta in the 800 at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games to take Kenya's first-ever gold medal in the event.
At the 1989 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungry, he established the world record in 1:44.84. A few days later he claimed his second NCAA indoor title in the 800 and then the NCAA outdoor crown in the spring.
Ereng lost only one 800 race during the 1989 outdoor season in 15 tries. He also had the world's fastest time of 1:43.16 during the season.
He also was fourth at the 1991 IAAF World Championships in Tokyo and was a member of the Kenya Olympic team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
Ereng graduated from Virginia in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in religious studies with a minor in sociology and received a masters in education administration from UTEP in 2010.
A native of Eldoret, Kenya, he attended the Starehe Boys Center as a prep.
He and his wife, Fatuma, have two daughters (Jasmine & Victoria) and one son (Paul, Jr.). Jasmine is on the track and field team at Tulane.
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