Nineteen Miners Qualify for NCAA West Preliminary
El Paso, TX — The UTEP track and field team is heading to the 2014 NCAA West Preliminary Championship from May 29-31 in Fayetteville, Ark., for a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
A group of nine men, eight women and three relay teams will represent the Miners at the highly-competitive meet. In order to advance to the NCAA Championships (June 11-14) in Eugene, Ore., individuals must finish in the top 12 in the quarterfinal round.
Both the men and women’s team have proven to be a threat this season, as the squads claimed silver at the Conference USA Championships. The women are currently ranked 36th in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national rankings while the men are 38th.
Returning to the national to the national stage for the women is All-American Janice Jackson. The C-USA Champion heads into the preliminary rounds of the 100m hurdles ranked sixth in the nation with a time of 13.05 that was posted at the Texas Relays earlier this year. In 2013, the senior automatically qualified to the national meet by finishing second in the second heat of the 100m hurdles. The hurdler crossed the finish line with a time of 13.18 sitting in sixth place in the NCAA West Region.
Most recently, Jackson defended her title in the 100m hurdles at the C-USA Championships. It marked her sixth gold medal of the 2014 outdoor season. The Jamaican native will take to the track at 5:45 p.m. (MT) on Friday.
Joining Jackson in the 100m hurdles are juniors Anna-Kay James and Jallycia Pearson.
In her first season with the Miners, James registered a personal-best time of 13.36 in the 100m hurdles set at the UTEP Springtime Invitational. The Jamaican native also went to on place third at the league championships, beating 23 hurdlers.
For Pearson, the 100m hurdles prelims will be a chance to qualify for nationals in a second event. The multi-event athlete has already earned a bid to the national meet in through her gold-medal performance in the heptathlon at the C-USA Championships. The El Paso native secured top marks in five of the heptathlon events, and she set a new meet record of 5,576 points. The previous record of 5,571 was set in 2007 by SMU's Gaelle Niare. Pearson’s performance currently ranks 10th in the nation.
Making their first appearance to the NCAA West Preliminary Championship will be freshmen Florence Uwakwe and Aiyanna Stiverene, who are ready to sprint their way to the top.
Uwakwe was named Freshman of the Meet at the C-USA Championships after taking the crown in the 400m run with a registered a time of 52.56. The sprinter then placed third in the 200m, recording a time of 23.60, -1.6.
Stiverne holds a personal-best time of 24.25 in the 200m dash, which was achieved at the UTEP Springtime. The Florida native is also a crucial element to the women’s 4x400m relay team, having helped the squad to three crowns this season.
On the field, the Miners are represented by Nickevea Wilson, Taylor Gunn and Samantha Hall.
Wilson’s ability on the runway continues to grow with every meet. The All-American captured gold in the triple jump with a personal-best leap of 13.38m (23-10.75) at the C-USA Championships. The distance placed her sixth in the nation.
After tearing her right tricep earlier this year, Gunn has picked up right where she left off. Progressing meet after meet, the thrower has garnered eight top-five marks this season. Most recently, Gunn placed fourth in the discus at the C-USA Championships with a toss of 51.51m (169-00).
Also throwing for UTEP in the women’s discus is Hall. The freshman qualified for regionals after recording a bronze-medal toss of 52.49m (172-02) at the C-USA Championships. Hall and Gunn will look to earn a spot at nationals on Friday at 2 p.m.
Continuing to go the distance for the men’s team is two-time national champion Anthony Rotich. Last year, the distance runner was unstoppable as he dashed out and paced the first heat of the men’s 3,000m steeplechase. As a sophomore he was the first runner to cross the finish line with a time of 8:37.49. Rotich concluded the meet third overall, earning him his fourth NCAA Championship appearance and eventually his first national title.
The All-American has only furthered his success as he endures as a dominant threat for the Miners. The junior has held the top spot nationally in the 3,000m steeplechase for the entire season, continuously eclipsing his own time. The Kenyan native‘s best time was 8:30.54, which came at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.
At the C-USA Championships Rotich won gold in the men's 1,500m run, 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m run to claim 30 points for the Miners and the High Performer of the Meet honor.
Adding depth to UTEP’s distance squad is Cosmas Boit. The newcomer is the only freshman representing the men’s team on a national level. The Kenyan native capped off his first regular outdoor season in the Orange and Blue by earning 14 points for the Miners at the C-USA Championships. He peeled off a personal-best 1:49.79 in the 800m run to place third overall.
On the sprints side veterans Abiola Onakoya and A-Shawni Mitchell are set to compete in the 400m. While injuries have slowed progression for these sprinters, their performances on the track still garner national attention. At the C-USA Championships Onakoya and Mitchell delivered seasonal-best times of 46.80 and 47.13, respectfully.
Leading the men in the 400m hurdles is Roberto Camacho. The junior transfer holds the No. 33 spot in the NCAA West Region with a mark of 51.37, which occurred at the Don Kirby Tailwind. Camacho will take to the track 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Mark Jackson, Brandon Moss and Carlos Hernandez will represent the Miner men in the field portion of events.
Jackson will be challenging for a national qualifying leap in the triple jump and the long jump. The All-American ranks fifth in the triple (15.96m /52-04.50) and 15th in the long jump (7.76m/ 25-5.5) in the NCAA West Region. In his last C-USA Championships he successfully defended his title in the triple jump with ease. The All-American delivered a leap of 15.96m (52-04.50) in his first attempt. The 2014 NCAA Indoor silver medalist’s showing ranks 13th in the nation.
Also competing in the long jump is Moss. The El Paso native claimed a bronze-medal finish in the long jump with a personal-best leap of 7.77m (26-06.00). That distance ranks him 14th in the nation.
Competing in the high jump, Hernandez is 34th in the region with a jump of 2.11m (6-11) that was posted at the Don Kirby Tailwind. The El Paso native will look to earn his first career bid to nationals on Friday at 4 p.m.
Live results of the NCAA West Preliminary Championship will be available at http://flashresults.com/?DB_OEM_ID=6100.