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UTEP’s Burgher, Simpson & record-setting 4×400 relay team punch tickets to NCAA Championships

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Photo Courtesy: UTEP Athletics

(Courtesy: UTEP Athletics)

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas - UTEP track and field’s Niesha Burgher (200-meter dash), Marissa Simpson (100-meter hurdles) and 4x400-meter relay team sprinted their way to nationals on the final day of competition at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships West First Round in Fayetteville, Ark., at John McDonnell Field on Saturday.

After four days of competition, UTEP will send 10 Miners to compete in seven events at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., in a few weeks.

“I’m happy with the way we competed here. This will be one of our biggest groups of athletes to advance to the NCAA Championships in a while,” UTEP Director of Track & Field Mika Laaksonen said. “It’s a great effort from the program to get two men and eight women - four individuals plus a relay - through to the final site. I’m excited to see what this group can do in two weeks in Eugene.”

The women’s 4x400-meter relay team concluded the evening and four-day meet by clocking in a new program record time of 3:33.02. Princess Uche (53.8), Loubna Benhadja (53.5), Zani Meaders (53.8) and Burgher (51.8) finished sixth in heat 1 while earning the 12th and final spot to advance. The school record stood for 24 seasons as the program’s previous best was 3:34.81 in 2000.

Simpson turned in a season-best 12.73 (2.5) in the women’s 100-meter hurdles quarterfinals. The junior finished in second place in heat 1 to earn the automatic bid to the championships. This will be Simpson’s second consecutive NCAA Championships appearance while it’s her first trip to historic Hayward Field. Simpson also competed at the NCAA ITF Championships in the 60m hurdles this past February.

After a 30th-place finish in last year’s NCAA West First-Round 200-meter dash, Burgher clocked in a 22.48 (2.5) in this year’s quarterfinals and finished second in heat 1 to gain the automatic bid. She finished in fourth overall. The senior will make her first career appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field D1 Championships. Burgher joined Simpson at the indoor championships earlier this season, as she competed in the 200 in Boston.

The UTEP track and field program will send 10 student-athletes to compete in seven events at the 2024 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships on June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore., at historic Hayward Field.


Arianne Morais was the first Miner to punch a ticket to Eugene after throwing a season-best 57.41 meters (188-4) in the women’s javelin and finishing first overall on May 23. The senior will compete at the NCAA Championships for a third consecutive year.

Sandra Maiyo booked her flight to compete at the NCAA Championships at historic Hayward Field. Maiyo snuck in with a 12th-place finish overall clocking in 34:29.70 in the women’s 10,000-meter semifinals. The freshman is the first Miner since Winny Koech in 2017 to compete in the women’s 10k at the NCAA Championships.

Jakub Belik leaped a personal-best 2.20 meters (7-2.5) in the first round of the men’s high jump on May 24. He reached his PB on his third and final try following two failed attempts. Belik was one of six competitors to leap the 2.20-meter mark and was sixth overall. Belik’s new mark ranks ninth best in program history. Belik will compete in his second consecutive NCAA Championships, while the junior jumper is making his first trip to Eugene as the championships were held in Austin, Texas, last season.

Jordani Woodley finally broke through to advance to the NCAA Championships. Woodley finished second in heat 3 with a season-best 13.29 (2.7) in the 110 hurdles on May 24. The junior finished fourth overall and punched his ticket to his first-ever NCAA Championships. He set the school record at 13.41 in Wednesday’s first-round race.


The 2024 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships are on June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore., at Hayward Field.

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Adrian Ochoa

Adrian Ochoa is ABC-7’s Sports Director.


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