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Slattery Wins Big 12 10k

May 13, 2005

MANHATTAN, Kan.- University of Colorado distance runner Sara Slattery won her fourth Big 12 Conference outdoor title here Friday night, taking the women's 10,000-m crown, her first-ever attempt at the distance, in a meet and track record, and NCAA automatic qualifying time of 33 minutes, 43.10 seconds at the ninth annual Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Kansas State's R.V. Christian Track Complex.  After three events, the Colorado women are in fourth place with 15 points and the men, fifth with 12.


            "It was a little tougher race than I thought it would be.  I was a little apprehensive," said Slattery.  "So I had to be smart about the pace.  My goal was to come in here and run under 34 minutes and qualify (for NCAA championships), so I didn't' want to push the pace, especially with a 5k to run on Sunday.  I actually ran a little faster than I wanted, but scored the points (10) that we needed, which was the plan."


            Slattery led the race from the opening lap and ran with a lead pack of three other runners before opening a gap after the sixth lap.   By the ninth lap she had a 7-second lead, and began to lap the field at just the 4k mark of the 25 lap race.  By the 14th she had a 26-second lead on the field and so ensued her race against the clock.


            "I was very good at hitting the splits that I needed to," said Slattery on her ability to race against the clock and not the field.  "I'm good at racing myself and am getting better at learning how to race and when to push it...but I'll save that for nationals which will be a good race."


            Her new meet record bested that of Baylor's Sherri Smith (34:48.49) in 1999 and broke a 20-year old stadium record of 34:25.39, set by Bonnie Sons of Iowa State in 1985.


            Bret Schoolmeester fell 1.77 seconds shy of making it a Colorado 10k sweep, as he exchanged the lead five times in the bell lap with Kansas State's Mathew Chesang who outkicked Schoolmeester in the final 50 meters to win in 29:23.67, a kick ahead of Schoolmeester (29:25.44) and his brother, Kansas' Benson Chesang (29:33.74).


            Like Slattery, Schoolmeester led at the opening gun and led a lead pack of 12 runners, which included Buffs Payton Batliner and Jon Severy, at the 14:47 5k split when a dog entered on to the track, bringing the fans to their feet in what was already developing into an exciting race.  Schoolmeester stepped to the right of the field entering the 14th lap, falling behind Benson Chesang, Missouri's Tim Ross and Mathew Chesang.  He regained the lead at lap 16 with the lead pack nearly sliced in half to seven runners with now Texas' Mark Nichol on his shoulder.


            By the 20th lap Schoolmeester was again in third and a lap later the two brothers and Schoolmeester began to lap the field and held their places over the next three rounds.  With two laps remaining, Schoolmeester regained the lead before things got interesting.


            At the bell, it was Schoolmeester, Mathew and Benson Chesang...on the back turn Mathew had a step on Schoolmeester who gained control of the inside lane, and seemingly the race, on the final turn when Mathew stole the race in the closing meters.


            "I'm pretty disappointed that I couldn't hold him (Mathew Chesang) off in the end," said Schoolmeester. "To be a really great runner, you have to be aware of what everyone else is doing and I didn't do that. After that many laps, you kind of don't know how much you have left in you. It was too late to really wait, so I just gave it everything I had. In hindsight, I should have waited a little bit longer, because I literally had nothing left with 100 meters to go and especially in the last 50. But, he kicked really hard and he won a conference title."


            While Schoolmeester's time was an NCAA automatic qualifier, Batliner had his best outdoor conference championship finish, seventh in 30:13.21 while Severy finished 10th in 30:59.42.  In the last race of his collegiate career, senior Matt McCue placed 20th in 31:53.36.  Erik Heinonen, who finished eighth in this race a year ago, miscounted his laps, finishing a lap shy of completion for the DNF.


            Overnight rains, lightening and thunder extended into Friday morning, but broke in time for the women's hammer throw, the meet's first event.  Sophomore Cortney Hutmacher, who had a season best 49.25m/161-7 coming into Friday's championship, was unable to improve on last year's 12th place finish as she fouled on all three hammer attempts.


            Thrower Hannah Warfield-Ruffato was the first to get the Buffs on the scoreboard as the junior threw a season best toss of 45.91m/150-7 in the women's javelin on her second attempt in the second flight to finish a conference championship career best fourth for five points.  Her throw was her third regional provisional qualifier of the season as she finished a pair of places ahead of last year's sixth place finish and is.  Her mark is the fourth-best effort all-time at CU to go along with the second-best all-time throw, and pr, of 152-7.


            "It leaves me hungrier for regionals," said Warfield-Ruffato.  I'm just getting into a throwing groove...I'm throwing consistently, but I just haven't had that big throw that I've been waiting for."


            Zach Hazen picked up a pair of points, the first of the meet for the CU men, with a seventh place finish in the men's hammer throw with a 57.32m/188-1 on his first throw of the afternoon.  The finish matched his 2004 effort and is his third best toss of his junior season in the event.  In his last conference championship, senior Chase Mullen finished ninth, just out of scoring position, in 56.90m/184-8 on his first throw.


            "I was very pleased with Hannah's performance.  To have your best throw of the year at this meet was important and impressive," said head coach Mark Wetmore following the opening day events.  "We came up a little short in the men's hammer on what we had hoped for.


            "We got about what we expected out of the 10k, though I wish Bret Schoolmeester had finished one spot higher. I'm glad with Payton's performance...he ran a patient and methodical race.  Sara Slattery had dual goals that were equally important for pick up 10 points and qualify for the NCAA Championships.  And she did both easily in her 10k debut."


            Saturday's second day opens with the men's and women's multi-events at 10 a.m. local time.  CU's Amberly Casey and Carly Newlands will be the first Buffs to compete at 2 p.m. in the women's long jump and shot put, respectively.  The first running events will be the men's and women's 1,500-m an hour later.



R.V. Christian Track Complex (Manhattan, Kan.)


Men's Team Scoring (after 3 events): 1. Kansas State, 28-points; 2. Texas A&M, 23; 3. Kansas, 20; 4. Nebraska, 13; 5. COLORADO, 12; 6. Texas 8; 7. Texas Tech, 5; 8. Iowa State, 4; 9. Missouri, 2; 9. Oklahoma, 2.

Men's 10,000-m Run: 2. Bret Schoolmeester, 29:25.44; 7. Payton Batliner, 30:13.21; 10. Jon Severy, 30:59.42; 20. Matt McCue, 31:53.36; Erik Heinonen, DNF.

Men's Hammer Throw: 7. Zach Hazen, 57.32m/188-1; 9. Chase Mullen, 56.30m/184-8


Women's Team Scoring (after 3 events): 1. Texas A&M, 18-points; 2. Oklahoma State, 17; 3. Kansas State, 16; 4. COLORADO, 15; 4. Kansas, 15; 6. Nebraska, 12; 7. Texas Tech, 10; 8. Baylor, 8; 9. Missouri, 6.

Women's 10,000-m Run: 1. Sara Slattery, 33:43.10

Women's Javelin: 4. Hannah Warfield-Ruffato, 45.91m/150-7

Women's Hammer Throw: Cortney Hutmacher, FOUL