UTEP men, women place second at CUSA Track & Field Championships

UTEP men, women place second at CUSA Track & Field Championships

EL PASO – UTEP’s Niesha Burger was a star this weekend, winning four gold medals and setting a pair of meet records on the final day of the 2024 Conference USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships hosted by UTEP on Larry K. Durham Track at Kidd Field on Sunday night.

Burgher was the High Point Scorer of the Meet with 25, while Xavier Butler and Rejoice Sule were honored as Freshmen of the Meet.

Overall, UTEP garnered 27 total medals (12 gold, eight silver, seven bronze).

New CUSA member Liberty swept the men’s and women’s championships. The Flames scored 195 points on the men’s side, while the Miners tallied 161 and Sam Houston 150. The Liberty women scored 177.7 points with UTEP coming in second with 138 and ahead of rival NM State (119 points).

The Miners improved from last season’s championships when the men finished in fifth with 88 points and the women fourth with 95.

“We competed hard and things went our way pretty much all three days,” UTEP Director of Track & Field Mika Laaksonen said. “We had a few hiccups in the middle of the meet on the men’s side but other than that it was a perfect meet for us.”

Burgher blazed out to a victory in the women’s 100-meter dash final clocking in a meet, personal and school-record 11.06. The senior sprinter claimed her second consecutive gold medal in the event after winning it in Denton last year. Burgher’s previous best was 11.25, while she broke Blessing Okagbare’s time of 11.10 set in 2010.

Burgher continued to shine as she bettered her school standard, lowering the time to a personal best and new meet record of 22.44 in the women’s 200-meter dash final. Burgher’s previous best was 22.90. At last season’s championships, Burgher took silver.

Burgher earned four gold medals during the three-day meet, snagging gold with the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relay team.

The UTEP women’s relay team comprised of Zani Meaders, Burgher, Marissa Simpson and Sule clocked in a 44.68 to take home gold.

The women’s 4×400-meter relay team also took gold as Princess Uche, Loubna Benhadja, Sule and Burgher clocked in a 3:35.68.

Simpson defended her 100-meter hurdles title, claiming another gold medal with a 12.75 (4.3).

Butler clocked in a 20.57 (3.1) and won a gold medal in his first outdoor championships 200-meter dash. Butler scored five points in the 100-meter dash with a fourth-place showing (10.10 [5.1]).

After missing the 2023 outdoor season, Aleks Hristov returned to the top of the podium in the men’s discus. The redshirt junior threw 55.84 meters (183-2) to earn his second gold medal. Hristov claimed gold at the 2022 CUSA Championships at UTSA.

Julio Pacheco Estrada improved from his performance at last year’s championships. The junior posted a personal-best 46.41 and won his first outdoor 400-meter dash event. Last season he finished in fifth place.

A day after claiming the men’s high jump championship Jakub Belik added another gold medal to his plate, winning the men’s triple jump with a 14.87-meter (48-9.5) leap. Belik scored 20 points in two days of action.

Aron Tanui clocked in a 1:54.64 in the men’s 800-meter race to take home a gold medal. Maxwell Kipkosgei finished right behind Tanui, posting a 1:55.48 and taking silver.

Joshua Hill finished second place in the 400-meter dash, clocking in a 47.03.

Benhadja won her second medal. She clocked in a 58.42 and took silver in the women’s 400-meter hurdles.

Sule garnered four medals, claiming silver in the 100-meter dash with a personal-best 11.29. She also earned a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash, clocking in a personal-best 23.24.

Esther Osisike claimed a silver medal in her first CUSA Outdoor Championship women’s discus final. Osisike recorded a 49.85-meter (163-6) toss and tallied eight points.

Uche posted a personal-best 54.06 in the women’s 400-meter dash final to win a bronze medal. The freshman took two medals home during the weekend.

Sandra Maiyo took her second medal of the weekend, clocking in a 16:48.16 and winning bronze in the women’s 5000-meter final. Maiyo won gold on Friday night in the 10,000m.

The men’s 4×400-meter relay team composed of Pacheco, Stephen Carreto, Mathew Polk and Tanui clocked in a 3:12.59 to earn a third-place showing.

Maurice Westmoreland scored five points in the discus final, finishing in fourth place with a personal-best 54.41-meter (178-6) throw.

A few of the “hiccups” Coach Laaksonen referred to were the men’s 4×100-meter relay team winning the race but was later disqualified for impeding a runner following a protest. Jordani Woodley was also disqualified in the men’s 110-meter hurdles after tripping and going around the hurdle.


The 2024 West Preliminaries will be held in Fayetteville, Ark., at John McDonnell Field on May 22-25. The NCAA Championships are June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore., at Hayward Field.

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