By: A. Martucci
November 23rd, 2013 was a monumental day for Arizona’s Elvin Kibet. Kibet led the cross country team to the podium at the NCAA Championships. The second place finish was the best in school history, and gave everyone a taste of Kibet’s talent.
Growing up, Kibet attended Moi Girls High School, an all-girls private school in her hometown of Eldoret, Kenya. She directed her attention toward academics and paid little to no attention to athletics.
“My school was challenging, as it focused solely on academics,” Kibet said. “I enjoyed school though. The continual academic challenge definitely helped me as a student. I learned how to study well, and I believe that is the backbone to my academic success as well as my study skills.”
Once Kibet had perfected her academic skills, she began to contemplate continuing her education after high school. She quickly learned that she could do so in America through an athletic scholarship.
Coming from a prestigious bloodline of world-class runners, Kibet had all the support she needed from her parents, and nine siblings (one of them being Collins Kibet, a freshman on the cross country and track and field team). Everyone supported her, and knew that she had what it took to compete at the highest levels of competition.
Disregarding recruitment letters from various schools, Kibet knew she wanted to be a Wildcat once she saw the prominent Arizona A toward the corner of the envelope.
“I still could not tell you why exactly, but I just knew it,” Kibet said. “My heart was just set on Arizona; I did not even consider any other school.”
And Kibet has not disappointed in her time at Arizona.
Aside from their team success, Kibet had a phenomenal individual season. At the Pac-12 cross country championship Kibet posted an outstanding time of 21:15 for a second place finish.
Coming off of a stellar cross country season, her indoor season was hampered by a tumultuous ankle/leg injury. Toward the end of the cross country season, transitioning into the indoor season, Kibet felt a shooting pain up from her ankle, through her calf. However, she continued to run.
“I feel as though I may have worsened my injury,” Kibet said. “It was my ankle, but I thought ‘oh I can push through this, it’s just a pain.’ But then my calf was getting affected and it was slowly but surely progressing.”
Despite her injury, Kibet wanted to make sure she did everything she could for her team.
“I tried to push through the pain at meets because I knew even if I did not win, I could still contribute points to the team, and better the team’s chance for a victory,” Kibet said. “I just wanted to contribute as much as I could.”
A competitor at heart, Kibet couldn’t stand the thought of sitting out for the remainder of the indoor season. As an athlete whose main concern was how she could contribute to her team first, she felt helpless on the sidelines.
But she took the time to repair her body and nursed her injury back to full health. When she returned, Kibet attacked the 2014 outdoor season with a vengeance. And her performance, once again, has not disappointed.
Kibet has posted some of the best times of her career so far in the outdoor season. She has posted a time of 4:25.23 at the ASU invitational, coming in third place. At the Pepsi Oregon dual in early April, she ran the 5,000 meter, with a time of 16:25.50 coming in first place.
Kibet’s breakout race came at the Mt. SAC relays in the 10k. She ran a 32:40.22 in the 10,000, coming in first place at the meet, landing the number two time in the country this year.
“All the pent up emotion and energy probably explains my performance this season,” said Kibet.
Kibet currently holds the second fastest time in the country in the 10k for Outdoor, after being sidelined for so long. Kibet partially credits her pre-racing rituals and mental routine for her success.
“You know, before the 10k, I said to myself ‘no pressures, no goals, just have fun,’” Kibet said. “I was so sure I was going to do well, so confident in myself. Honestly, I was not nervous, and I was not surprised about that. I just went with it, and ran.”
Kibet will continue to run for the Wildcats. Her desire, and fight for Arizona will come full circle, picking up right where she left off.
UA-ASU-NAU Double Dual
No. 11 Arizona hosts Arizona State and Northern Arizona
Saturday, May 10
Roy P. Drachman Stadium
Field Events at 4 p.m.
Track events at 6 p.m.