Mutai, Evans Excel At Midwest Regionals
UTEP’s Patrick Mutai picked up a gold and Erma-Gene Evans collected the silver as the track and field teams capped off a successful NCAA Midwest Regional in Norman, Okla., Saturday.
On the final day of competition, head coach Bob Kitchens’ squad had four more individuals advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held in Sacramento, Calif., from June 8-11.
Overall, the men’s team scored 31 points to take ninth out of 32 teams, while the women’s team scored 15 points to take 19th out of 33 teams.
Mutai took the regional title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase running out in front the entire race.
“The race could have been much better if not for a slight stomach problem. It kept on getting worse and that is why I had to slow down a little,” said Mutai. “I was not expecting to run the race alone. The other guys just didn’t come with me at the start of the race.
“I am satisfied with the outcome, but I still have not achieved my target of improving on my time each race.”
The freshman crossed in 8:45.67, two seconds ahead of Colorado’s Bill Nelson. Junior Mircea Bogdan will also unite with Mutai at the national meet in the event. He ran fifth with a time of 8:57.59. The duo will be the first UTEP tandem in the event at the NCAA Championships since 1999.
It was nearly as simple for Evans. She just needed two throws to finish second in the javelin. She launched a heave of 164-10 (50.25) and 168-8 (51.42) on her first two tries before shutting it down on her final four throws.
“My groin has been bothering me some and it is not fully healed yet, that is why I only took two throws today,” said Evans. “I felt pretty good though because I was able to get my steps right on both throws.”
Junior Fatimoh Muhammed also added her name to the Sacramento travel roster. She edged out Iowa State’s Ada Anderson for fifth place in the 800-meter run to gain an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. She ran a personal best 2:05.28 to Anderson’s 2:05.38.
Other UTEP athletes weren’t as fortunate.
All-American Desiree Crichlow missed moving on in the high jump. She took 10th with a clearance of 5-7 1/4 (1.71). Freshman Elias Koech placed seventh in the 800, running 1:49.11. The Miners’ 400-meter relay of John Alipio, Daniel Ward, Yinka Bello and Bryan Sears ran seventh with a season-best time of 39.80. UTEP’s 1,600-meter relay, running Alisha Leverett, Cheryl Jacob, Muhammed and Olatunde Okusanya, was timed at 3:41.94 in a timed final.
Ward, who was expected to be a contender in the 400-meter dash, had to pull out of the final for precautionary reasons due to a tight hamstring.
Saturday’s qualifiers join three automatic entrees and three athletes who will be considered as at-large selections in four other events.