UTEP pole vaulter named 2021 C-USA co-men’s field athlete of the year


Photo Credit: Sam Craft (Paulo Benavides)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Paulo Benavides, a UTEP pole vaulter, has been named 2021 C-USA Co-Men’s Field Athlete of the Year.

Benavides is a Franklin High School alum and a graduate transfer from Kansas. He earned his first-team All-American honors at the 2021 NCAA Championships. 

At the Championships he cleared 5.30m (16-4.5) to earn a share of seventh place. Benavides is the first UTEP male pole vaulter to advance to nationals since 1998 (Mikhail Gorbatenko in Buffalo, N.Y.). He was also the first UTEP male in the event to take home All-American accolades since 1986 (Chris Leeuwenburgh).

“It all started to come together for him during the championship segment of our season. Paulo first won the conference title in pole vault and then placed tied for seventh place at NCAAs, earning his first First-Team All-American honors in the process. What a way to close out one’s collegiate career, and we are proud of his and his coach’s efforts!” said Mika Laaksonen, UTEP track & field head coach.

Benavides won gold earlier in the season at the 2021 Conference USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a then season-best mark of 5.36m (17-7). As a result, he secured All C-USA first team honors.

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