Women start slow but end afternoon with top-5 finishes

Julie Thompson


The first day of the Texas Relays got off to a slow start, with only four Longhorn women competing in distance-running events. Thanks to junior Laleh Mojtabaeezamani and senior Betzy Jimenez, the pace picked up at the end.
Mojtabaeezamani led the women’s team with a third-place finish in the 5,000-meter race. This is Mojtabaeezamani’s second year in a row to take third; this year with a time of 17:10.39.
She was followed by Jimenez, who finished fourth in 17:13.20. Senior Allison Mendez also finished in the top 10 with a time of 17:52.18.
Taking first and second in the 5,000 meters were two athletes from the University of Texas at El Paso. Risper Kimaiyo finished in 16:36:20, and Kathya Garcia had a time of 16:39.19. Jimenez spent most of the race with Kimaiyo and Garcia before falling back around the 10-minute mark and later being passed by Mojtabaeezamani.
Kimaiyo and Garcia each lapped 10 of the 19 competitors. The 19 runners ended up spread out along the track, which Mojtabaeezamani said made the race tougher.
“It was good for the beginning of the season; it was really tough of course, but I feel happy with it,” she said. “Whenever you get in no man’s land, it is hard to keep competing, so I was happy I kept competing in no man’s land.”
The Texas Relays marks the second outdoor meet of the season for the Texas women. Mojtabaeezamani competed in the 5,000 meters at the Big 12 Indoor Championship meet, but didn’t finish the race.
“It has been night and day since Indoor; I wasn’t really happy with Indoor. I had a rough time until outdoor started, but since it started, practice and meets have just been clicking.”
Also competing for the Longhorns were junior Anne Jones and senior Jena Cuellar. Cuellar finished 10th in the 800 meters, with a time of 2:19.83.
Jones had a tough race in the 1,500 meters. She fell off the track part way through the race, but stood back up and was still able to finish ninth in 4:47.22.
Although she is now finished competing for the week, Mojtabaezamani said she is excited for the rest of the events.
“Texas Relays is the best — I love, love being here,” she said. “It is an experience; it’s a lot of fun.”
Again on Thursday, only a handful of Longhorn women will be competing. Okwukwe Okolie will participate in the hammer throw, while Angele Cooper, Danielle Dowie and Natasha Masterson will compete in the 400-meter hurdles.
Chelsea Carrier from West Virginia and Ryann Krais from Kansas State took first place in the women’s heptathalon 100-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash, respectively.