EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – He made his NCAA Track and Field Championships debut last spring on UTEP’s 4×400 meter relay team and Jevaughn Powell used it as the ultimate learning experience.

“I told myself, ‘I’m not gonna put myself in a position to only go to Eugene on the 4×400,” Powell said last week before heading to nationals. “I wanted to go to experience an individual event.”

The Jamaican stayed true to his word. He ran the third-fastest NCAA Championships qualifying time in the 400 meters at the West Prelims in Arkansas two weeks ago, breaking his personal record with a time of 44.87 seconds.

On Wednesday, he’ll run in the 400 meter semifinals at the NCAA Championships at the legendary Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

“It just took a couple more years for him to put the physical and the mental elements together, so that’s what I attribute the success he’s having right now,” said Miners sprints coach, Davian Clarke. Clarke himself is a former Olympian for Jamaica and recruited Powell to UTEP.

Last offseason, Powell had a major epiphany. He realized what he was put on the earth to do and, most importantly, why.

He’d always had plenty of talent, but he had found his purpose. Powell’s mother passed away in late 2019, just as he arrived at UTEP. Understandably, it took him awhile to process her death, but when he did last summer, that’s when the light went on.

“I was thinking about my life and my mom and I wanted to make her proud. I used that as motivation. Having her in my heart every time and remembering that she’s the reason why I’m doing this,” Powell said.

Coupling his natural talent with his why, Powell has been dominant this year, cruising to victory at the Conference USA Championships. Now, Powell could easily find his way to the podium in Eugene.

There’s a chance for me to be number one, so I have to go up there and do my utmost best,” he said.

He’s done that all season for the Miners, with his mom looking down, surely with a big smile.

“Most of the time as a coach, I’m trying to talk to my athletes and help them zone in on what that one thing (they’re running for) is,” said Clarke. “For Jevaughn, I don’t have to do that because he already knows what his purpose is.”

Powell will race in the semifinals at 7 p.m. MT Wednesday night in Eugene. If he finishes in the top three of his heat, or with one of the next two-fastest times, he’ll advance to Friday night’s final.

Elsewhere for UTEP, thrower Arianne Morais will compete in the javelin on Thursday at 7:45 p.m. MT. Franklin High School graduate Omajuwa Etiwe will potentially run in the 4×400 meter relay for Texas A&M on Wednesday.

Suleiman Nyambui, a 15-time national champion at UTEP from 1978 to 1982, will receive the prestigious honor of being inducted into the inaugural Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame. The presentation will take place Monday night, June 6 starting at 8:30 p.m. MT/7:30 PT at the Hult Center for Performing Arts in Eugene, Ore., two days prior to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.