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The men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays closed out the NCAA West Preliminary on a good note qualifying out of the preliminary round and into the semifinal round of the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships set for June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Our men had a great last day of the meet,” head coach Mika Laaksonen said. “Both relays advanced to Des Moines qualifying two individuals and two relays according to our expectations.”
The UTEP track and field team qualified for four events following the three-day west preliminary at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. All-American Dimitrios Fylladitakis advanced in the men’s hammer throw, while freshman Richard Olsson qualified in the men’s javelin.
With the 4x100m having qualified earlier in the day, Suji Adeniyan, Anderson Mutegi, Leon Dillihunt and Anthony Wright had punched their tickets for Des Moines. The threesome of Adeniyan, Mutegi and Dillihunt needed another extraordinary effort to take anchor Curtis Kock to the final rounds of the 4x400m relay at the national meet. The first three legs left it up to Kock for a big finish in heat one of three. Kock got the exchange with the Miners in fourth and almost two seconds behind Stanford. The junior outsprinted Stanford senior Mark Mueller 46.41 to 48.11 to meet him in the backstretch for a close finish. Stanford took third in the heat to automatically qualify with a time of 3:08.13, while the Miners’ time of 3:08.17, the second best following automatic qualifiers, was enough to give UTEP it’s second relay squad to Drake. The time was also the second best recorded by the squad this season.
The men’s 4x100-meter relay had a challenge before them running the third and fastest heat of the day. The challenge ended up working in their favor when, after finishing sixth in their heat with a time of 40.34, three squads from other the other two heats were disqualified for illegal exchanges. The disqualifications advanced the next best three times of the day, all from the third heat including the Miner squad of Adeniyan, Mutegi, Dillihunt and Wright.
The UTEP women did not have the same luck going 0-for-2 in the final day. All-Americans Endurance Abinuwa and Risper Kimaiyo, the women’s best chances at qualifying for the final rounds, ended their season on the track on Saturday afternoon.
Abinuwa crossed the 200-meter finish line at 23.94 finishing sixth in the third of as many heats. The junior needed to beat 23.36 to move out of the 200m dash quarterfinals.
Kimaiyo was in the leading pack of the women’s 5,000m race through 10.5 laps. Heading into the second-to-last lap, Kimaiyo suffered a fall at the finish line from which she was unable to recover. The four-time All-American completed the race eighth in her heat clocking in at 16:27.10, but 17th overall pushing her out of the NCAA final.
“Everything just kept going wrong for our women again today,” Laaksonen added. “Risper (Kimaiyo) was running a solid qualifying race until she fell down with just 800m to go in the 5K. Nothing ended up going our way here at Eugene in the women’s side. We feel bad for Risper because she did everything she was supposed to do to advance, we just simply had a bad meet.”
The Miners will return to El Paso on Sunday afternoon to continue training for the final rounds of the NCAA Championships scheduled in less than two weeks in Drake.
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