Track Set To Host Big 12 Outdoor Track Championships
BOULDER- For the first time in the history of the Big 12 Conference, the University of Colorado will host the outdoor track and field championship, May 16-18, at Potts Field in Boulder.
Colorado last hosted an outdoor conference track meet in 1993, in what was then the Big Eight Conference.
The championship will kick off with the decathlon and heptathlon at 10 and 10:45 a.m., respectively, on May 16. The first field event is the women's hammer throw at 12 p.m. and the first event on the track is the women's 10,000-meter run at 7 p.m.
The meet will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday as well. The team championship awards presentation will take place at approximately 6:45 p.m. on Sunday evening.
Oklahoma won the men's title in 2007 with 110.5 points. CU took fourth for the second straight year with 92 points and tied their best conference finish. Texas A&M handily won the women's title with 140 points compared to runner-up Nebraska's 117. The Buffs placed 10th (37).
The Colorado men's team has a strong core this year and will look to be one of the teams making a run for the team championship. The Buffs have several fifth-year seniors in Billy Nelson, Brent Vaughn, Stephen Pifer, Pete Janson, who are all returning conference champions and hope to bring CU its first men's title in school history.
The Buffs are currently ranked 11 in the latest USTFCCCA rankings. Texas A&M holds down the top spot, while Baylor is 10th and Texas is 12th.
CU's weapons lie largely in their distance core. The 5,000-meter run is an event CU has dominated in the past, capturing 10 of the 11 titles since the conference's inception in 1997. Vaughn will lead CU as he has clocked the fastest collegiate time in the 5k this season at 13:18.36. Pifer ranks second in the conference with a mark of 13:40.54.
Junior Kenyon Neuman and senior Chris Pannone will also look to make an impact in the race. The Buffs have a pair of talented 5k freshman harriers in Richard Medina and Matt Tebo who both rank in the top seven in the conference.
The Buffs also look strong in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Nelson is the reigning champion, while Janson won the event in 2006. Nelson's mark (8:36.44) is the second-best in the country. Janson's mark (8:43.28) ranks seventh overall. Freshman Christian Thompson, an accomplished high school 2,000-meter steeplechase runner, recorded his first regional mark of 9:06.68 and ranks 13th overall in the league.
Pifer's top race is the 1,500-meter run. His biggest competition lies in Texas' Leo Manzano, who has won two of the three conference titles. Pifer owns the other title, from 2006, when he established the Big 12 record (3:40.70). Vaughn and Neuman should also make an impact in the race as well as senior Rob Thayer.
Several Buffs will also compete in the 10,000-meter run. Pannone is the only Buff to run the 10k this season and recorded an NCAA provisional mark of 28:49.96. It is currently the best time in the conference. Pannone placed third in the 10k in 2006. Several other Buffs should be entered in the race and will look to score big points for CU.
The sprinting corp. has also been making an impact for the Buffs in the past few seasons. Junior Jeremy Dodson will lead the charge. He has earned regional marks in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. He ranks fourth in the league in both events.
Senior Ryan Campbell also owns a regional mark in the 200. Hugh Charles will also compete for CU in the sprints and the long jump.
James Begley and Kevin Fasing look to lead the CU men's throwers into action. Begley, who will compete in the hammer, shot put and discus, ranks third in the Big 12 in the discus with a regional mark of 178 feet and 5 inches. Fasing, a javelin thrower, owns a regional mark of 204-02.
The CU men will also have a pair of athletes competing in the decathlon. Freshmen Adam Salzmann and Ryan Dresen are looking to score points for the Buffs in the combined events area, which the Buffs haven't done in several years. Salzmann ranks eighth in the league while Dresen is 11th.
On the women's side, juniors Jenny Barringer and Sara Vaughn will lead the Buffs. Barringer, an accomplished 3,000-meter steeplechase runner, is the defending Big 12 Champion. Barringer scored 16 points for the Buffs during the 2007 championship. She also placed third in the 5,000-meter run.
Vaughn was third in the 1,500-meter run in 2007 and is also looking for a regional mark in the 1500 to compete at regionals May 30-31. She will need to run a mark of 4:34.34 at altitude to qualify for the meet.
Senior Chelsea Haverty and junior Troi Smith will compete for the Buffs in the heptathlon. Haverty's mark is ranks eighth in the league and Smith's is 11th. Haverty ran a CU season best 14.89 in the 100-meter hurdles on May 3 in Laramie, Wyo. She also owns CU's best marks in the long jump (17-03.25) and high jump (5-03.00).
Toi and Joi Windham, along with Sara Price, will lead the Buffs in the 400-meter hurdles.
The forecast bodes well for the Buffs as they welcome their 11 conference foes to Potts Field this weekend. A high of 64 degrees Fahrenheit is expected for Friday as well as partly cloudy skies. Sunny conditions are expected on Saturday and Sunday with highs in the low 70's. There will only be a 20 percent chance of rain all three days.
Live stats will be available through www.CUBuffs.com.
The championship will be televised, tape delayed, on FSN Rocky Mountain on Thursday, May 22. Tim Neverett will be doing the play-by-play duties with Carol Lewis handling the color. Jim Power will do the sideline interviews.
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