(Courtesy: UTEP Athletics)
DALLAS, Texas - UTEP’s Victor Kibiego, who earned NCAA track and field First Team All-American honors, was named the 2022-23 Conference USA Michael L. Slive Male Athlete of the Year as voted on by the league’s 11 athletic directors as announced Wednesday by the conference office.
Kibiego is the first UTEP student-athlete to earn the prestigious award since Anthony Rotich claimed it following the 2014-15 athletic season.
Rotich was the male athlete of the year three consecutive seasons (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15).
Kibiego joins Rotich along with Camilla Carrera (UTEP Softball) and Blessing Okagbare as other UTEP student-athletes to be named the Michael L. Slive Male or Female Athlete 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).
It marked 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 Rotich won his third consecutive.
Since the men’s award started in 2009, Kibiego is the fifth Miner to be recognized as CUSA Athlete of the Year.
Dimitrios Fylladitakis (2009 – field), Rotich (2013, 2014, 2015), Korir (2017) and Michael Saruni (2018) all took home the honor previously.
Kibiego started the athletic season by advancing to the 2022 NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships in Stillwater, Okla., following his top-25 finish at the Mountain Regionals on Nov. 12.
At regionals, Kibiego clocked in a 28:21.2 in the men’s 10K event, placing 20th out of 118 competitors. Kibiego was the first Miner since Titus Cheruiyot in 2019 to advance to nationals.
Kibiego was stellar in his first collegiate cross country season with the Orange and Blue.
He earned First Team All-CUSA honors after placing second overall, clocking in a 24:15.4 in the 8K at the CUSA XC Championships on Oct. 29 in Denton.
He set his PR with a time of 23:53.6 in the 8K at the Arturo Barrios Invitational, placing fifth.
He opened the season at the Lori Fitzgerald, clocking in a personal-best 15:09.3 in the 5K and finishing third. Kibiego was named the CUSA Male Athlete of the Week on Sept. 20 after his performance at the Texas Tech Open.
He placed sixth out of 116 runners on Sept. 17 in Lubbock.
For his accomplishment, Kibiego has been named this week's Community Champion.
Community Champions is sponsored by Albertsons and the El Paso Community Foundation.