Nov. 1, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The UTEP men's cross country team came up short in their attempt for a fourth consecutive league title finishing second at Saturday's Conference USA Championships in Memphis, Tenn.
The Miner men scored 30 points for a second place finish behind Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane scored 27 points to win their first C-USA team and individual championships.
Top Miner finisher Japheth Ng'ojoy completed the 8K race in 23:31, a season-best, to finish in second place and one second behind meet champion John Beattie from Tulsa. Patrick Mutai claimed the Miners' second spot on the medal stand finishing third in the race with a time of 23:45. Nicodemus Ng'etich finished fourth overall crossing the finish line in 23:53.
Rounding out the Miners was Aggrey Chirchir for a ninth-place with a time of 24:50 and Dominic Tanui, 12th, in 25:13.
"The men ran a courageous race today," head coach Paul Ereng said. "Dominic's (Tanui) injury played a factor but if he continues to improve we can get a good finish at regionals and take that to the next step to nationals."
Ng'ojoy was selected as the league's Outstanding Senior for 2008. Ng'ojoy joined Mutai and Ng'etich as C-USA Men's All-Conference First Team selections. Chirchir and Tanui picked up Second First Team honors for the men.
The women's team scored 182 points for a seventh-place finish. Sophomore Happy Mary Bacia was the top performer for the women completing the race in 17:26 placing her seventh overall.
Jepchirchir Kigen finished the 5K race in 18:17 to finish 18th overall. Kathya Garcia completed the race in 18:37 to place 32nd. Freshman Kitria Stewart was the fourth finisher for the Miner women with a time of 20:08 (59th place). Delia Cesar finished in 20:36 (66th) and Megan Chojnacki placed 70th with a time of 21:13 to round up the Miners.
"Happy Mary (Bacia) ran a good race for the women," Ereng added. "This was the best finish for the women's cross country team at conference since 2006."
Bacia was selected to the C-USA Women's All-Conference Team, while Kigen was honored as a C-USA Women's Third Team selection.
The teams will take two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Mountain Regionals on November 15 at Fort Collins, Colo.