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Track Sends Three To NCAA Meet

Mar 13, 2003

Fayetteville, Ark. - Colorado track & field coach Mark Wetmore will send three athletes to Fayetteville, Ark., for the 2003 NCAA Indoor Championships this Friday, March 14. Sara Gorton (3K and 5K), Ed Torres (5K) and Natalie Florence will represent the Buffs at the meet.

"We definitely don't take indoors as seriously as outdoors," said Wetmore before his group left for Arkansas. "This year, with the addition of the outdoor season regionals, it lengthens our season two weeks, so we've made radical adjustments to our winter training. It is a small contingent, but we all agreed that whoever made it to nationals did so by accident. My aspirations are that each of the three can run a thoughtful race, that they can evaluate their opponents, their fitness, the facility and come up with a plan and execute it. If they do that, they will beat people that are unexpected and develop racing skills for outdoors."

Gorton has the leading 5,000 meter qualifying time in the nation and is the favorite entering Friday night's race. Her time of 15:58.86 is the only sub-16 minute time in the nation and is the Colorado record, as well as winning her the Big 12 title. Her 3,000 meter time of 9:12.19, which she ran at the Iowa State Qualifier last Friday, is the fourth best in the nation and is just :12-seconds off the leader, Shalane Flanagan of North Carolina. Thanks to both marks, she was named the US Track & Field Coaches Association Mountain Region Athlete of the Year.

"She is less prepared for indoors than the others," said Wetmore of Gorton. "I will be pleased if she runs that time (15:58) and if she does, she should finish top three which is pretty realistic. The next day she doubles back in the three where she'll be carrying some fatigue from the night before. If she runs low teens, that will be good."

Florence, the last runner accepted into the 5,000 and the only provisional qualifier in the race got in with a mark of 16:22.09. Wetmore hopes she can better her mark and attempt a personal best, a feat which will surely place her higher than her qualifying mark.

"Natalie goes in with the slowest qualifying time, so if she beats anyone, it will be a victory," said Wetmore. "Obviously, we won't settle for that. We're hoping for her to run middle teens and PR."

The lone male in the group, Ed Torres also made it in as the last time in the men's 5,000, but his was an automatic one and the last sub 14-minute mark. His time of 13:57.91 at the Big 12 Championships nosed him into the field of 16 and with a smart race, his coach thinks he has a chance to finish better than his seed.

"Ed is the last in the field (of 16) and he's in with some people that are on the top of their game and race ready," Wetmore said. "He's got to be cagy and he'll have a chance to PR. I think he'll beat two-thirds of the field"

The Buffaloes will all be in action on Friday night, with Gorton (5k) and Florence racing at 7 p.m. Friday night followed by Torres, and Gorton again on Saturday night (3k).