EL PASO, TEXAS – Cross Country and Track & Field’s Anthony Rotich was named the UTEP Male Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive time at the 41st annual “Dinner With the Miners” banquet on Thursday night at the Wyndham El Paso Airport. Soccer’s Sarah Dilling was appointed the Female Athlete of the Year.
Martin Simonsen from men’s golf received the Golden Miner Award, presented to UTEP’s top all-around student-athlete based on athletics, academics and community service. Andress High School Head Coach Jim Forbes was recipient of the Silver Anniversary Award.
Rotich continued a spectacular UTEP athletic career by capturing his third national title at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Rotich successfully defended his crown in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He became the first man in Division I history to win both the indoor mile and the steeplechase in the same calendar year. Coupled with achieving high-point scorer honors at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships, Rotich was named a semifinalist for the Bowerman Trophy as one of the nation’s top-10 collegiate track and field athletes. He continued to excel during the 2014 cross country season, winning his third conference title and advancing to NCAAs. Rotich was appointed the C-USA Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive time, as well as the UTSFCCCA Mountain Region Athlete of the Year. In the spring of 2015, Rotich was High Point Scorer of the Meet at the C-USA Indoor Track and Field Championships for the third year in a row. Later he garnered his ninth All-American accolade by taking third place in the mile at NCAAs.
Dilling was the catalyst as the UTEP soccer team set a school record by allowing just 15 goals in 21 games during the 2014 season. Dilling started every contest and set a school record by a netminder by pitching eight shutouts. She also fashioned a save percentage of .851 and a goals against average of 0.68; both numbers rate second in school history. Dilling became the first goalkeeper in school history to earn first team All-Conference honors. She closed out a stellar UTEP career ranked first in school history among netminders with 41 wins, 20 shutouts, 82 games played and 82 games started. Dilling has been a force off the field as well, compiling a 3.66 grade point average and completing 59 community service hours.
Simonsen has cemented his place as one of the greatest golfers in UTEP history over the last four years. He has led the team in scoring average every season and earned a berth in NCAA Regionals twice. He has recorded fourteen top-10 finishes, including winning the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational his junior year in El Paso, and placed in the top-20 on 21 occasions. Simonsen has been UTEP’s top finisher 26 times in 41 tournaments. He holds a career-best scoring average of 71.6 this season and took second place at the Arizona Intercollegiate. Off the course, he has fashioned a 3.73 cumulative grade point average and has completed 42 hours of community service.
The Silver Anniversary Miner Award is presented to an individual who had a distinguished college athletic career, and has continued to contribute to UTEP and the El Paso community.
Forbes played for the Miners from 1971-74 after earning All-American honors at Bel Air High School in El Paso. He led Bel Air to two district titles, earning All-City honors twice. In 2012, Bel Air retired his no. 50 jersey. He was a two-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection and a three-time All-District honoree at UTEP. After averaging a double-double and setting a UTEP sophomore record with 290 rebounds, Forbes earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. He was chosen by the Chicago Bulls in the fourth round of the 1974 NBA Draft. While he never played professionally, Forbes pursued a coaching career and was an assistant to the legendary Don Haskins at UTEP from 1981-84. He later became one of the most successful high school coaches in El Paso history during stints at Riverside High School and Andress High School. He led Riverside to the Texas 5A Final Four in 1995 and Andress to the 5A Final Four in 2015. He has compiled 563 career high school coaching victories.
The grade point average award was presented to the rifle team, and the community service award went to soccer.
In addition, team MVP awards were presented to Julian Washburn (men’s basketball), Cameasha Turner (women’s basketball), Rotich (men’s cross country, men’s indoor & outdoor track & field), Joan Jepkirui (women’s cross country, women’s indoor track & field), Janice Jackson (women’s outdoor track & field), Aaron Jones (football), Simonsen (men’s golf), Camino Sardinero (women’s golf), Rachel Schoenrock (rifle), Dilling (soccer), Kawehiokalani Netane (softball), Duda Santos (tennis), Coline Coessens (volleyball), Jordan Francis & Lisa Sanchez (cheerleading), Josh Bell & Netane (strength & conditioning) and Isela Sanchez (athletic training).
“Dinner With The Miners” is made possible by the El Paso Downtown Lions Club. The event was inspired by past Lion president John Phelan. In 1979, a $10,000 memorial endowment was established. Due to the overwhelming community support of the event, the memorial fund was raised to $100,000 in 1983. A second endowment has already been established and continues to grow each year. These two endowments provide funds annually to offset the cost of student-athlete scholarships.
Mark Brunner Associate Director UTEP Media Relations