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Community Champions: UTEP sweep CUSA Track Athletes of the Year

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- UTEP’s Victor Kibiego, who earned First Team All-American honors, and Marissa Simpson, who was named Second Team All-American, were selected as the 2023 Conference USA Track Athletes of the Year as announced by league officials on Wednesday.

All awards were voted on by the league’s head coaches and consider the student-athlete’s performances from both the 2023 indoor and outdoor seasons.

Kibiego and Simpson are the first pair of Miners to sweep the track athlete of the year awards since 2017 when Tobi Amusan and Emmanuel Korir were named the track athletes of the year.

Kibiego earned All-America status in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a third-place showing after clocking in an 8:32.49 at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field National Championships on June 9 in Austin, Texas. Prior, the outdoor freshman phenom posted a personal-best 8:26.80 in the 3000m steeplechase at the West Prelims in Sacramento, Calif., on May 26 to punch his ticket to Austin. Kibiego’s time of 8:26.80 ranks fourth on the program’s all-time list. Kibiego, who was named the CUSA Freshman of the Meet, took home a trio of medals at the championships, winning gold in the 3000 steeplechase (8:51.93), silver in the 5000-meter race (14:08.37) and bronze in the 1500-meter run with a personal-best 3:44.59. At the Bryan Clay on April 14, the native of Eldoret, Kenya, placed first in the 5000 with a PR 14:00.10. Kibiego won the 3000 steeplechase with a 9:15.10 at the Willie Williams/Dave Murray on March 24. Kibiego added a second-place finish in the 1500m at the Desert Heat (3:44.68).

This marks the second consecutive season that UTEP earned the male track athlete of the year (Jevaughn Powell), while Kibiego is the first UTEP male distance runner to be named track athlete of the year since 2015 when Anthony Rotich won his third consecutive. Since the men’s award started in 2009, Kibiego is the fifth Miner to be named CUSA Athlete of the Year. Dimitrios Fylladitakis (2009 – field), Rotich (2013, 2014, 2015), Korir (2017) and Michael Saruni (2018) were all named athletes of the year.

Simpson was honored as a Second Team All-American in the 100-meter hurdles (13.21) in the semifinals at NCAA Nationals in Austin on June 8. The sophomore sensation clocked in a personal-best 12.94 (0.8) in the 100-meter hurdles, placing seventh at the West Prelims in Sacramento on May 27. Her time ranks second on the program’s top-10 list behind Amusan (12.57). The native of Kellits, Jamaica, took gold in the 100m hurdles with a 13.27 (1.2) at the CUSA OTF Championships. Simpson also won gold in the 60m hurdles with an 8.20 at the ITF Championships. She ran a personal-best 8.12 in the 60m hurdles at the Don Kirby, and finished third in the 100H with a 13.49 (0.9) at the Willie Williams/Dave Murray.

Simpson is the first UTEP female sprinter/hurdles since 2017 (Amusan) to be honored as the track athlete of the year. Since the award for the women’s side started in 2010, Simpson is the third Miner to be named CUSA Athlete of the Year. Amusan was in 2016 and 2017, while Blessing Okagbare was both track and field athlete of the year in 2010.

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Rachel Phillips

Rachel Phillips is the weekend sports anchor and reporter

UTEP Athletics


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