The women’s UTEP track and field team took second place at the 2019 Conference USA Championships on Sunday afternoon.
It was a close race to the finish and the women’s team fell just shy of claiming the crown at the conference meet. The Miners finished the meet with a total of 102 points, which wasn’t enough to top Charlotte who won the 4x400m relay, securing the 49ers’ team title with 103.5 points.
“Heading into the championship, we had a few individuals that were battling injuries including Linda Cheruiyot (missed championship) which set us back a bit,” said head coach Mika Laaksonen. “Yesterday some individuals didn’t qualify for the finals, but we still came into the final day with a good group that gave us a chance to win. But Charlotte had a really good relay team that registered a meet record (3:34.76), which we couldn’t match and the relay is what it came down to.”
In her last meet of her collegiate career, Lilian Koech dominated the track in the women’s 1,500m and 800m. The senior took the track in the 1,500m first and ran away with the crown with a time of 4:26.85. Koech went on to run a solid 800m race, earning a silver medal with a time of 2:05.77. The distance runner tallied a total of 18 points for the Miners.
Teammate Carolyne Chepkosgei also posted a stellar showing, clocking in a third-place finish in the 1,500m (4:28.81). In the 800m, the sophomore crossed the finish line fourth with a time of 2:07.44.
In the hurdles, Kimisha Chambers earned a spot on the podium in the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles. In the 100m hurdles, the junior crossed the finish line third with a time of 13.73. She went on to take the crown in the 400m hurdles with a winning time of 58.33. Freshman Carshaylah Harrison took eighth in the 400m hurdles with a time of 1:05.39.
In the women’s 5,000m, Winny Koech stormed out early as the front runner, posting a winning time of 16:42.02. The Miner finished the C-USA Championships scoring 20 points.
The women’s 4x100m relay (Maribel Caicedo, Chambers, Aphiniti Crupper and Madison Gibson) battled it out for a fourth-place finish with a time of 46.27.
On the field, Roosa Yloenen became the front runner early in the women’s javelin throw. The freshman notched a mark of 48.45m in her first attempt of the day. She went on to top herself with a toss of 49.86m in her fourth attempt. Yloenen won the javelin throw in her first conference championship appearance.
Freshman Chantoba Bright was the lone Miner in the women’s triple jump. The jumper took bronze in the event with a leap of 12.63m posted in her fourth attempt of the day. Bright was named the C-USA Freshman of the Meet, after claiming two bronze-medal finishes.
“On the men’s side, we came into the final day hoping to finish in the top three, but Sean Bailey strained his hamstring in the 400m and that hurt the team,” said Laaksonen. “I think overall the men’s team performed well with the individuals we had going into the meet.”
On the men’s side, Shakeem Smith not only won the 400m hurdles but posted a personal-best time of 50.86. The junior also took the track in the 110m hurdles and posted a sixth-place finish with a time of 14.40.
Miners Iason Machairas and Benjamin Coronado took the field in the final day of the C-USA Championships in the shot put. Freshman Machairas posted a bronze-medal finish of 17.89m in his third throw of the meet. Coronado finished fifth with a mark of 16.98m registered in his third attempt.
In his first meet of his collegiate career, Marek Taskar registered a silver finish in the javelin. The freshman posted a season-best toss of 65.24m in his final attempt of the day.
In the men’s triple jump, Darius King posted a leap of 14.56m to earn an eighth-place finish.
The men’s team finished sixth with 75 points.
Closing out the action was the women’s 4x400m relay (Gibson, Chambers, Rolle and Bolomboy), as the squad went back and forth sitting between fourth and fifth, and ultimately crossed the finish line fourth with a time of 3:41.18.
The Miners will return to the track on May 23-25 in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor West Preliminaries in Sacramento, Calif.