Miners Advance To NCAA Championships
The eight-ranked UTEP cross country team qualified for the NCAA Championships with a second-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Regional in Provo, Utah, Saturday.
The Miners scored 79 points finishing as the runner up behind third-ranked Colorado (42 points). Sixth-ranked BYU was third with 86 points. It is UTEP’s highest finish at the regional meet since finishing second in 1992.
“This is a great achievement for our cross country and track and field program,” said head coach Paul Ereng. “We didn’t preform the way we expected to, but we did well and got to nationals.”
Stephen Samoei was UTEP’s top finisher in the 10k race, placing fourth in 30:35.4. He was followed by Japheth Ng’ojoy, who was fifth in 30:39.8.
All-American Mircea Bogdan moved up from 13th place over the final meters of the race to take ninth in 31:04.3. UTEP’s top runner this season Patrick Mutai was 14th in 31:13.2, despite running with a tight back.
“It was a good day overall and all of these guys are going to improve come nationals,” said Ereng. “This is a very good accomplishment for our program and our school, to be ranked in the top 10 in the nation and heading to nationals.”
Dominic Kiprono Tanui made his UTEP debut and was the Miners fifth and final scorer. He rank 32:33.7 to place 47th. Joe Muoz of Fabens was 68th in 33:14.4 and Elias Koech was 79th in 33:52.9.
UTEP last advanced to the NCAA Championships as a team in 1992 when it finished 20th. The Miners last NCAA Championship in cross country was in 1981.
The women’s team was paced by Fatimoh Muhammed, who took 66th out of 114 runners in the 6k race. She crossed in 23:32.8.
UTEP’s other finishers included Panice Orora (79th, 23:56.3), Kersta Caliz (81st, 24:03.1), Megan Chojnacki (98th, 24:52.6), Delia Cesar (109th, 25:49.4), Crystal Garcia (110th, 25:55.7) and Venessa De La Rosa (111th, 25:58.8).
The Miners were 17th as a team with 433 points. Colorado scored 53 points to hold off BYU (59 points) for the meet’s title.
The UTEP men will next run at the NCAA Championships on Monday, Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.