The UTEP cross country women will raise the curtain to the 2010 season ranked No. 19 on the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll. The men’s squad received two votes in their respective poll.
“The rankings at the beginning of the season speak for how you finished the previous season,” head coach Paul Ereng said. “Our women had a great year last year and they’re a lot more experienced going into this new season. But they still have a lot of work to do to improve on that.”
The UTEP women return all but one runner from last year’s team that finished 22nd at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Leading the squad is All-American sophomore Risper Kimaiyo. The Iten, Kenya, native capped off a spectacular freshman season with a ninth-place finish at nationals. The top finisher in all of the Miners’ meets in 2009, Kimaiyo claimed the Conference USA crown and earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors following a fourth-place finish at the Mountain Regional. She became the first freshman to be tabbed the Conference USA Female Athlete of the Year following her breakout season.
Kimaiyo earned her second USTFCCCA All-American honor during the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships where she finished fourth in the women’s 5,000m run.
Rounding up the top five returners for the women are Kathya Garcia, a USTFCCCA All-Region selection, Gladys Chumba, Karina Garcia and Kitria Stewart. The UTEP squad is the top Conference USA school ranked in the preseason poll, SMU goes into the season at No. 22 and Rice is No. 28.
The Miners will open the season at the Lobo Invitational this Saturday, Sept. 4, in Albuquerque, NM.