Austin, Texas - The UTEP track and field team is heading to the 2013 NCAA West Preliminary Championship from May 23-25 in Austin, Texas, for a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
A group of 10 men, eight women and one relay team will represent the Miners at the highly-competitive meet. In order to advance to the National Championship in Eugene, Ore., individuals must finish in the top 12 in the quarterfinal round.
The men’s team has proven to be a threat this season as the squad upset Houston at the Conference USA Championship. The Miners won the title by 14 points. The Miners also caught national attention, as they were ranked 25th in back-to-back weeks in the USTFCCCA national poll.
At the Conference USA Championship, Anthony Rotich was recognized as the Performer of the Meet after posting a triple- crown performance. The sophomore blew past the competition en route to winning the 1,500m, 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase in the three-day meet.
Rotich was one of two individuals on the men’s side to set a meet record at the conference outdoor meet, clocking in a time of 8:39.44 in the 3,000m steeplechase.
Last season, he finished second at the NCAA West Preliminary meet in the 3,000m steeplechase posting a time of 8:49.42. Rotich went on to earn his first All-American honors after finishing sixth at the NCAA Championship.
Rotich ran for the first time this season in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Mt. SAC Relays. The sophomore was the first collegiate runner to cross the finish line with a personal-best time of 8:37.47, which also ranks him third in the nation.
The distance runner also holds the ninth-fastest time in the nation in the 5,000m with a time of 13:34.84, which also is the fourth-fastest time in school history. Rotich will not be running in the 5,000m at the West Preliminary Round, he will focus on the 3,000m steeplechase the remainder of the season.
The sophomore is a three-time All-American earning honors in the 3,000m steeplechase (2012), indoor 5,000m (2013) and cross country (2012).
Rotich will be taking the track in the 3,000m steeplechase on Friday at 9:30 p.m. (CDT).
Teammate Elphas Maiyo earned a spot in the 10,000m at the West Preliminary Round after clocking in a time of 29:41.19 at the Stanford Invitational.
The sophomore boosted the men’s team at the C-USA Championships by finishing second in the 10,000m with a time of 30:31.75 and fourth in the 5,000m.
Sprinting Out of the Block
Abiola Onakoya returns this season ready to dominate the field competing in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the NCAA West Preliminary meet. The junior is an integral member of the team, who has boosted the 4x400m relay as the anchor of the squad.
Onakoya had a stellar meet at the UTEP Invitational, where he registered a personal best of 20.83 in the 200m. He then went on to post the 32nd-fastest time in the nation of 46.22 in the 400m, which earned him C-USA Athlete of the Week honors.
The junior helped the men’s team earn a conference title as he finished first in the 400m, third in the 200m and brought home the Championship with a first-place finish in the 4x400m relay.
Last season, Onakoya made it to the quarterfinals round in the 400m at the West Preliminary meet with a time of 46.74, but was unable to advance to the national meet and finished 23rd overall.
Onakoya will take the track on Thursday at 7:45 p.m. If the Miner advances to the quarterfinals, he will run on Friday at 6:15 p.m. The sprinter will conclude the meet in the 4x400m relay on Saturday at 9:45 p.m.
A-Shawni Mitchell had a difficult 2012 campaign but this season nothing can stop the sprinter. The sophomore earned two medals at the C-USA Championships, taking silver in the 400m and gold as a member of the 4x400m relay.
Mitchell posted the 78th-best time in the nation this season of 46.90 in the 400m posted at the UTEP Invitational.
This will be Mitchell’s second time running in the 400m at the NCAA West Preliminary Round.
Anthony Wright gets ready to make his third and final appearance at the West Preliminary meet competing in the 100m. The senior helped the Miners secure five points at the conference meet by making it to the finals in the 100m and 200m.
Wright clocked in a season-best time of 10.53 in the 100m at the UTEP Invitational finishing fourth in a competitive race.
Earning a spot in the men’s 200m is sophomore Kristian Dillard. The sprinter has come a long way this season, registering a personal-best time of 21.27 at the UTEP Invitational.
Miners Bring Reinforcement
The Miners have always been a force to be reckoned with but this season UTEP is bringing some reinforcements on the field. Texas transfer, Mark Jackson, has conquered the jumps and proved to be a contender at the national level.
Jackson not only claimed the title in the triple jump at Drake Relays, but also posted a personal best and the fourth-best leap in the nation of 16.19m (53-01.50).
The junior took the gold medal at the 2013 C-USA Outdoor Championship in the triple jump with a mark of 15.79m (51-09.75). He went on to compete in the long jump for the first time this outdoor season and finished fifth out of 20 jumpers. He recorded the 64th-best jump of the nation of 7.46m (24-05.75) in his second to last attempt.
Donovant Grant has always been a consistent student-athlete, but this season the senior has proven to be a leader for the Miners. The jumper is making his first appearance at the West Preliminary Championship, taking the field in the long jump.
The senior has leapt to the top, as he registered a personal-best jump of 7.53m (24-08.50) at the UTEP Invitational. Grant’s effort ranks him 50th nationally in the long jump.
Grant competed in the triple jump, high jump and long jump at the C-USA Championship. He claimed bronze in the long jump with a mark of 7.53m and finished sixth in the high jump.
Throws Make an Impact
Richard Olsson suffered an injury late last season during the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary Championships, which set him back but the junior is ready to prove himself this season.
Olsson opened the season posting a personal best of 72.53m (237-11) in the javelin at the UTEP Invitational. The thrower’s mark also secured him the No. 12 spot in the national rankings.
The junior claimed a silver medal at the C-USA Championship with a toss of 68.64m (225-02) registered in his first attempt of the meet.
Demetris Elia has also excelled this season on the field for the Orange and Blue. The sophomore registered a personal best of 61.03m (200-03) in the hammer throw early in the season at the UTEP Springtime meet.
The thrower checks in at No. 56 in the national rankings, and this is his second appearance at the West Preliminary Round.
The squad will be returning to Mike A. Myers Stadium where earlier it season they clocked in a season-best time of 3:08.03 posted at Texas Relays. Its time rates 40th in the nation heading into the West Preliminary Round in Austin, Texas.
The team helped the men’s team secure the conference title with a first-place finish, crossing the finish line with a time of 3:10.41.
Jumping Over Obstacles
Janice Jackson is known for finishing ahead of the pack time after time. The junior earned her second C-USA gold medal but this time stormed past the competition in the 100m hurdles.
The junior clocked in the 14th-fastest time in the nation and a personal best of 13.11 at the conference meet. The hurdler also secured the No. 2 spot in the school recordbook, which she previously held with a time of 13.24 set at the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary.
During the season, Jackson took first place in the 100m hurdles at Drake Relays with a time of 13.26 (W: -1.6).
Brianna McGhee has proven to be a dominating force in the 100m hurdles as a freshman. The hurdler crossed the finish line third at her first C-USA Championship with a personal best of 13.33. Her time also rates her 30th nationally heading into the meet this weekend.
Samantha Sharper continues to improve meet after meet in the 100m hurdles. The senior finished fourth at the conference meet by recording a personal-best time 13.36. That time also ranks her 34th in the nation.
Returning to the women’s team one final time is senior Risper Kimaiyo. The distance runner had to sit out the 2012 outdoor season due to an injury, but Kimaiyo is back and stronger then ever.
The senior took two titles at the C-USA Championship meet winning the 10,000m and defending her crown in the 5,000m. Kimaiyo ran the 10,000m for the second time in her career and proved to be victorious with a time of 34:47.64.
The distance runner sits 24th nationally in the 5,000m with a time of 15:55.67 registered earlier this season at the 55th Mt. SAC Relays.
The All-American has been known for her effort in the 5,000m ranking nationally year after year, but the senior has proven to be a threat in the 10,000m as well. Kimaiyo ran in the 10,000m for the first time this season at the Stanford Invitational and registered the 13th-fastest time in the nation of 33:24.21.
Taking the Field
Supporting the women’s team on the field this season is sophomore Taylor Gunn. The thrower progresses meet after meet. Most recently, Gunn recorded a personal-best toss of 52.48m (172-02) in the discus at Drake Relays. Her mark ranks her 40th in the nation.
The sophomore finished third at the Conference USA Championships with a mark of 49.79m (163-04), which was posted in her fourth attempt.
In the triple jump, freshman Nickevea Wilson will look to continue her success. The jumper holds the 43rd-best leap in the nation, which was registered at the Texas Tech Open.
Seniors to the Blocks
Magen Del Pino has shined this season in the Orange and Blue, kicking off her senior campaign with a season-best mark of 11.37 in the 100m recorded at the UTEP Springtime meet. The effort also ranks her 24th nationally.
Yolanda Suggs also had a stellar opening meet, registering the 37th-fastest time in the nation of 11.44 in the 100m.
Suggs will also be representing the Miners in the 200m, where she rates 74th nationally. The sprinter clocked in a season-best time of 23.60 to win the event at the UTEP Invitational.
At the 2013 Conference USA Outdoor Championship, Suggs posted a fifth-place finish in the 100m dash finals.