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Eugene, OR — Sophomore Anthony Rotich shocked the nation as he stormed out in the final lap of the men’s 3,000m steeplechase and claimed the NCAA title in the third day of the NCAA Championships in Hayward Field.
“The plan was to make a move with 400-meters to go and just run through the line,” said National Champion Anthony Rotich. “At first I thought this guy (Henry Lelei) has been doing it for four years and this isonly my second year and for someone that has done it for a long time he hasexperience, but I think this was my day.”
The distance runner sat within the leading group of three throughout the whole race, but when the bell rang for the final lap the race between Rotich and Texas A&M’s Henry Lelei began. Both competitors would not relent as they battled for the leading spot.
It all came down to the final water barrier where Lelei fell as he was jumping over the barrier giving Rotich the edge as he ran through the finish line with a personal-best time of 8:21.19.
“At first, I thought it was me who fell down,” said Rotich. “Then when I looked to the left I saw that Lelei fell down.
His time not only makes him the school record holder in the steeplechase, but also was the seventh-fastest collegiate time. Rotich is UTEP’s first NCAA Champion on the men’s team since 2008 when Mickael Hanany won the high jump in the Orange and Blue.
“We knew he had a lot of strength,” said associate head coach Paul Ereng. “But the steeplechase is a very complex event because you have to jump over all the barriers and water.”
Nickevea Wilson wrapped up her first season in the Orange and Blue finishing eighth in the first flight of the women’s triple jump. The sophomore posted a personal-best leap of 12.77m (41-10.75) in her third andfinal attempt at the championship concluding the season 17th overall.
Representing the Miners on the final day of the NCAA Championships will be Mark Jackson in the men’s triple jump at 1:30 p.m. (MT) and Janice Jackson in the 100m hurdles final at 4:09 p.m.
For all updates on the UTEP track and field team please follow @UTEPTrack on Twitter.
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