AUSTIN, Texas – UTEP’s Victor Kibiego finished in the top five in the 3000-meter steeplechase semifinal one to automatically advance to Friday night’s final at the 2023 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field National Championships hosted by Texas at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Kibiego placed fifth in the first semifinal, clocking in an 8:41.24. The race started shaky with traffic amongst the runners, while Kibiego was in the back of the pack to begin. But the freshman eventually broke into the top five just after the five-minute mark and sustained his place as a front runner.

Montana State’s Duncan Hamilton placed first (8:38.07), while Washington’s Ed Trippas (8:38.26), Virginia’s Nathan Mountain (8:38.31) and UCLA’s Peter Herold (8:38.63) rounded out the top five in the first semifinal race. Eastern Kentucky’s Abdelhakim Abouzouhir (8:35.41) won the second semifinal and clocked in the top time overall.

Kibiego, along with the 11 other student-athletes, will compete for a national championship on Friday night at 7:24 p.m. MT/8:24 CT.

Two other athletes with El Paso ties were also in action on day one of the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Austin. Rice decathlete Grant Levesque (Coronado) is currently in 11th place overall in the competition through five events.

Levesque finished fourth in the decathlon 100 meters and threw a personal best of 45 feet, eight inches in the shot put. The former T-Bird will look to climb the standings on Thursday on the last day of decathlon competition.

Meanwhile, former Franklin 400m star Omajuwa Etiwe ran the second leg of Texas A&M’s 4×400 meter relay team, which qualified for Friday’s finals by finishing seventh overall on Thursday night.

The UTEP women will get started with Arianne Morais and Roosa Yloenen in the women’s javelin final starting at 5:45 p.m. MT/6:45 CT. For Yloenen, it will mark the final competition of her track and field career. Marissa Simpson will race in the women’s 100-meter hurdles at 7:32 p.m. MT/8:32 CT.

Men’s high jumper Jakub Belik will be in action on Friday, looking to bring home some hardware to El Paso.