Laaksonen, Svenoy To Join Track Hall Of Fame
Former UTEP track and field legends Mika Laaksonen and Jim Svenoy with be enshrined into the school’s track and field hall of fame on Friday night in a ceremony at the Larry K. Durham Sports Center at 7 p.m. MST.
Laaksonen, who is currently on the UTEP coaching staff, was one of the best hammer throwers in school history. In two years at UTEP he gained All-American honors three times and was a two-time NCAA champion.
In 1992, the native of Anjalankoski, Finland, won the NCAA Indoor title in the 35-pound weight throw and then went on to take the NCAA Outdoor gold in the hammer. He placed as the runner-up in the hammer at the 1993 NCAA Championships. He also was a two-time WAC champion taking the weight and hammer titles in 1992.
Laaksonen broke an 18-year-old school record in the hammer during the 1993 season with a distance of 244-3 (74.44) at the Wildcat Last Chance Meet in Tucson, Ariz., on May 1.
The 1994 Finnish national champion, he had a personal best of 250-10 (76.22) in the hammer following his UTEP career. He graduated with his undergraduate degree in finance in 1995 and his master’s in economics in 1998.
Since joining the Miner staff in 1999, Laaksonen has coached 13 NCAA All-Americans, 11 WAC champions, four school record holders and two NCAA national champions.
Svenoy gained NCAA All-American honors five times, was a two-time NCAA champion and took eight WAC titles in his UTEP career which spanned from 1992-95.
The native of Elnesvagen, Norway, he won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 1994-95. He was also the event champion in each of his four years at both the Texas Relays and the WAC Championships.
He left UTEP with the school record in the steeplechase (8:21.48) and second in the indoor 3,000-meter run (7:51.24).
Svenoy continues to be one of the world’s top steeplechasers. He has competed in three Olympic Games (1996, 2000, 2004) and has been the Norweigan champion in the event in 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004. He has finished in the top 50 in the world in each of the last 11 years and with eighth at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
He holds Norway’s national record in the indoor 1,500 (3:41.37), the indoor 3,000 (7:47.59), the 2,000-meter steeplechase (5:26.18) and the 3,000 steeplechase (8:12.05).
Both inductees were teammates in 1992 and 1993 and competed for current head coach Bob Kitchens. The Miners had four top-six national finishes during that span (fifth outdoors-92; sixth outdoors-93; fourth indoors-92; fourth indoors-93).
The hall of fame ceremony is in conjunction with the Spira Invitational, which will be held Saturday at Kidd Field. The competition begins with the field events at 10 a.m. MST, followed by the running events at 3 p.m. MST.
Tickets for the meet are $5 for adults and $3 for children. All UTEP students will be admitted for free. For more ticket information please call 747-5347.