Track Preps For NCAA Regional Meet
BOULDER - Twenty-two members of the University of Colorado's track and field team will compete in 14 events this Friday and Saturday, May 27-28, at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships at the John Jacobs Track and Field Complex in Norman, Okla. For all but three of CU's student-athletes, it's the final hurdle in advancing to next month's NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif.
In a field of qualifiers from the states of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, the top five finishers in each individual event this weekend, and the top three relay teams in each race will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships. In addition a national "at-large field" will be created from the sixth through eighth place individual finishers and fourth through sixth relay teams, based on a year long descending order list to fill the NCAA Championship fields in each event area.
Junior Zach Hazen will be throwing the discus, and Andy Miller will be competing in the high jump the championships' first events, at noon (CT) on Friday while Chris Abuan, George Pincock, Nate Terry and Jason Zichterman will be running in the men's 4x400-m relay, the last event of the meet Saturday night at 8:15 local time.
The three that will advance to the national championships without this weekend are Christine Bolf, Bret Schoolmeester and Sara Slattery, as all three have run NCAA automatic qualifying times in the 10,000-m so far this season as the 10k, as well as heptathlon and decathlon are the only events not contested on the regional level.
Entered this weekend from the men's team with their current regional ranking, is Payton Batliner (5,000-m/28th), Anthony Chiulli (1,500-m/22nd), Pete Janson (steeplechase/7th and 1,500-m/14th), Hazen (hammer/15th and discus/37th), Andy Miller (high jump/23rd), Chase Mullen (hammer/18th), Billy Nelson (steeplechase/4th and 5,000-m/21st), Stephen Pifer (1,500-m/7th), James Strang (5,000-m/24th), Brent Vaughn who has the region's fastest 5,000-m time of 13:39.69 (eighth nationally) and is 10th in the 1,500-m and Abuan, Pincock, Terry and Zichterman (4x400/16th).
Senior Natalie Florence is the only member of CU's travel party with a regional title to her name, as she won the women's steeplechase in 2003 and finished third a year. She is entered again in the steeple with the third best time in the region, ninth nationally, behind teammate Renee Metivier, who will only be running the 5k, and Oklahoma State's Barbora Kuncova, who edged Florence at the Big 12 Championships two weeks ago in Manhattan, Kan.
Also on the CU women's roster this weekend are Amberly Casey (long jump/22nd), Big 12 high jump champion Anna Magle (15th), Metivier (5,000-m/21st), Liza Negriff (triple jump/16th), Carly Newlands (shot put/14th), Big 12 5k champion Sara Slattery (2nd and 5th nationally) and Hannah Warfield-Ruffato (javelin/13th).
"My aspirations are that eight or nine of the 22 athletes that we are bringing advance to the NCAA Championships from this meet," said head coach Mark Wetmore. "That would require five to six to rise up and compete beyond their rankings, which is something that I think especially Hannah (Warfield-Ruffato) in the javelin and Stephen (Pifer) in the 1500-m are capable of."
The NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships are June 8-11 at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento.