Rotich Takes Crown at NCAA Championships
El Paso, TX — All-American Anthony Rotich captured the NCAA title in the mile leading the men’s team to an eighth-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
“It was a tremendous effort from both sides today,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “We had four athletes compete at the national meet and all of them made first team All-American and scored valuable points for the team.”
The NCAA Champion garnered his first indoor crown in the mile posting a time of 4:02.54, beating out Arizona’s Lawi Lalang, who holds both the collegiate and NCAA meet record in the event.
Rotich is the first Miner on the men’s team to claim gold at the national meet since 1997, when Obadele Thompson took first in the 200m. The Bowerman Watch List candidate is one of four Miners that have earned an NCAA Indoor title in the mile (Wilson Waigwa ‘77, James Munyala ’78, Suleiman Nyambui ’79, ’80, ’82). This is the junior’s second-straight NCAA title; he previously won the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Teammates Mark Jackson, Janice Jackson and Nickevea Wilson also registered impressive showings at the NCAA Indoor Championships as they all garnered for the first time Indoor All-American honors.
On the field, Mark Jackson was the runner-up in the men’s triple jump as he recorded a stellar personal-best leap of 16.38m (53-9). The senior is one of four Miners in program history to finish in the top-two in the NCAA Indoor Championship in the men’s triple jump (Bob Beamon ’68, Arnold Grimes ’75, ’76, ’77 and Norbert Elliott ’85). His performance in the event ranks him fifth all-time in school history.
The men’s team finished eighth overall at the national meet tying with LSU and Texas A&M.
On the women’s side, senior Janice Jackson took her first indoor All-American honors with a fifth-place finish in the 60m hurdles. The senior joins former Miner Kim Turner as the only UTEP women to claim All-American recognition in the 60m hurdles. The hurdler clocked in a time of 8.05 in the event to conclude her indoor collegiate career.
Sophomore Nickevea Wilson earned her first All-American honors as she placed eighth in the triple jump with a leap of 12.90m (42-4). The last Miners to receive All-American status in the women’s triple jump were Olympian Blessing Okagbare and Nelly Tchayem in 2008.
“It couldn’t have gone any better,” said Laaksonen. “I am very proud of these four athletes and their coaches.”
The Miners are set to open the outdoor season at Kidd Field on Saturday, March 22 starting at 10 a.m. (MT).