Track was one of the original sports introduced to the College of Mines (now UTEP) in the school’s early years and has become the most successful sport at the University, producing the most national championship wins and the most Olympic athletics.
Dean “Cap” Kidd personally funded and coached the earliest Miner track and field teams. Additionally, he included the track in his design of Kidd field. By 1940, track and field had become more organized under the direction of head coach Harry Philips who created a regular work-out and practice routine for the all-men track and field team. The team ended the season ranked 4th.
In 1949, Coach Dale Waters recruited two Border Conference championship hopefuls, freshmen Javier Montes, state record holder for the mile, and Don Bingham, a sprinter transfer from Sul Ross. Using smart recruiting strategies Waters built a top contending track and field team; a tradition that has continued to present day. Javier Montes proved to be a terrific athlete, competing on the 1952 U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500– the first of many Miner track and field athletes to participate in the Olympics.
In 1954 legendary head coach Ross Moore took over the track and field team. Moore is responsible for combining athletic training with sports medicine, informally beginning the Miner Sports Medicine program in the 1940’s. In addition to track and field, Moore also coached football and basketball and created an athletic training facility at Holliday Hall. Coach Moore continued to coach track and field until 1966; making him the second longest serving head coach for the sport.
Since 1966 track and field has been coached by the following: Wayne Vandenburg (1967-1972), Ted Banks (1973-1981), John Wedel (1982), Larry Heidebrecht (1983-1984), Dan Pfaff (1983-1984), Tom Jones (1985-1988), Bob Kitchens (1989-2011), Steve Keith (1994-2000), David Welsh (2001-2002), Paul Ereng (2003-present), Mika Laaksonen (2011- present), Davian Clarke (2012-present), and Lacena Golding Clarke (2011-present).
Nationally, track and field has won the following team NCAA National Championship titles: Men’s Outdoor Track in 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1982; Men’s Indoor Track in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, and 1982; and Men’s Cross Country in 1969, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1983. UTEP is the 3rd most winning track and field program nationally, with a total of 7 championship wins. Only Arkansas and Michigan State have won more championships with 10 and 8 wins respectably. Individually, UTEP track and field members won several national championships including the following: 3 in Cross Country, 38 in Men’s Indoor Track, 44 in Men’s Outdoor Track, 11 in Women’s Indoor Track, and 7 Women’s Outdoor Track. Conference top finishes include the following first place titles under the Western Athletic Conference: 14 first place finishes for Men’s Outdoor Track; 16 first place finishes for Men’s Indoor Track; and 13 first place finishes for Men’s Cross Country. Since becoming part of Conference USA in 2006 Men’s Outdoor has finished in first place twice, Men’s Indoor Track as finished first, once; Men’s Cross Country placed first 4 times, and Women’s Indoor placed first in 2010.
UTEP Track and Field has produced over 100 Olympic participants starting in 1952 with Javier Montes and continuing to the present. Standout Olympians include Bob Beamon, 1968 gold medalist in Long Jump and Ria Stalman, 1984 gold medalist in Discus. Several other UTEP track and field team members have won silver and bronze medals. The track and field program at UTEP has established a tradition of excellence and it is certain that the program will continue to produce the finest cross country and track and field athletes in the world. For more information about track and field visit their official website.
[Sources: 2012 UTEP Track and Field Fact Book; Cross Country, Track and Field Newsletter, “ New Additions to Coaching Staff,” Volume 2, Issue 1; The El Paso Herald Post, October 1933, October/14/1933, October/16/1933, October/30/1933, November/3/1933, November/4/1933, andNovember/6/1933; Hamilton, Nancy, UTEP: A Pictorial History of the University of Texas at El Paso, 1988; The Prospector, February/03/1940, May/11/1940, May/18/1940, March/03/1947, February/03/1949, February/23/1953, February/12/1955, and February/14/1958; and UTEP Athletics, Olympic Central, http://www.utepathletics.com/london2012/.]
Ashley Swarthout was a student in the Masters of Arts in Teaching English program at UTEP. She graduated in May 2013 and is now teaches dual credit at Chapin High School.