Linda Cheruiyot heads into her final season as a cross country runner for The University of Texas at El Paso with a tough act to follow.
After all, the senior runner capped the 2018 campaign by helping the Miners make history.
The UTEP women won their first-ever conference championship at the Conference USA meet in Boca Raton, Florida. A quartet of Miners were among the race’s top six finishers, with Cheruiyot staking claim to the top spot as individual champion.
Despite those lofty achievements – which have come with a commensurate number of accolades such as being named Conference USA Cross Country Athlete of the Year, first team All- Conference USA and All-Region – Cheruiyot is looking for more in 2019.
“Being part of the first championship team is so awesome,” said Cheruiyot, who also enjoyed a successful spring as part of the Miners’ track and field squad, including a gold-medal run in the 3,000-meter race at the C-USA Indoor Championships. “It motivates me and motivates my team. I’m looking forward to cross country. Hopefully, I’m going to be in the top 10 nationally. I’m looking forward to winning as a team. We have started (a winning tradition) and we need to keep it going.”
To that end, Cheruiyot has approached her summer training with a vigor befitting the returning C-USA individual champion. She does it in a setting that has provided a welcoming environment since her arrival from Sing’ore Girls High School in Metkei, Kenya. Cheruiyot said the best thing about UTEP is the people. Here, Cheruiyot has found a community led by her head coach, Paul Ereng, that embraces her and continually pushes her and the Miners to succeed through a unified effort.
“The reason last year’s team was so successful, I can say, is teamwork,” Cheruiyot said. “We were working closely together, practicing and supporting each other. The main goal this year, again, is to win the championship.” - Pablo Villa