ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Freshmen Jordani Woodley and Celina Johannsen set school records in their collegiate debuts, and a total of 11 Miners turned in top three performances as the UTEP track and field team completed its first indoor meet of 2022 and first since 2020 on Saturday afternoon at the Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Invitational in the Albuquerque Convention Center.
“There is always lot of uncertainty present in the team’s first indoor meet after a long holiday break. It was different here today and we got all kinds of performances on both sides,” UTEP Head Coach Mika Laaksonen said. “Our fans should get excited about how our freshmen performed today. They clearly came here with a purpose and showed our upperclassmen how to get it done. We achieved several personal bests in the process and two of those freshmen set new school records in their events. Celina Johannsen in women’s pole vault and Jordani Woodley in men’s 60-meter hurdles. It was a very good start for our season and a solid foundation to build on for the events to follow.”
Woodley headlined the beginning of day by setting a program record in his UTEP debut. The freshman from Hanover, Jamaica, clocked in a new school record 7.82 in the 60m hurdles preliminaries, passing Miner great Shakeem Smith (7.89 in 2020). Woodley, who competed in his first ever indoor meet, finished third in the final (7.94).
“It was a good race. I came out and executed right in the heats,” Woodley said. “I’m really happy with my performance. It was a good experience in my first indoor meet, and It means a lot to me to be the school record holder.”
Johannsen placed third in the pole vault in her UTEP debut. The Malmo, Sweden, native registered a school-record 3.83m (12-6.75) mark. Johannsen broke a record that stood for over 20 seasons as she edged out Yuliya Kostina (3.75m in 2001).
“I’m super happy with my performance and today’s result,” Johannsen said. “I can’t wait to continue to improve.”
Another UTEP freshman had an immediate impact in his first collegiate meet. Victor Kibiego crossed the finish line in the 3000m, posting a time of 8:25.71 in his UTEP debut.
Transfer Karon Dean also made an impact in his UTEP debut as the junior won the 60m dash, turning in a time of 6.68. Teammate Dennis Johnson finished right behind him, clocking in a personal-best 6.74. Dean (6.71) and Johnson (6.76) also finished one and two, respectively, in the preliminaries.
Aleks Hristov, competing in his first indoor season as a Miner, placed second in the weight throw with a mark of 18.72m (61-5.0).
Sah-Jay Stevens also placed second in the weight throw, turning in a personal-best mark of 17.78m (58-4.0).
Freshman Jakub Belik finished third in the high jump, recording a 2.11m (6-11.0) in his UTEP debut.
The men and women experienced success in the mile events. Kenneth Talavera clocked in a personal-best 4:10.08, good for a second place showing. Carolyne Chepkosgei finished third, clocking in a 4:57.13.
Maribel Caicedo finished in third in the 60m hurdles, clocking in an 8.28.
Loubna Benhadja won Heat 2, clocking in a 1:35.69 in the 600m during her UTEP debut. The Blida, Algeria, native finished fourth overall.
UTEP will compete at the New Mexico Team Open on Saturday, Jan. 29. Following that, the Miners will take the indoor track again in the ABQ at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational (Feb. 11-12). The Conference USA Indoor Championships will be held on Feb. 19-20 in Birmingham, Ala., and the indoor season will conclude at the NCAA National Championships March 11-12, also in Birmingham.