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Men Win Big 12 Title

May 18, 2008

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BOULDER -- The University of Colorado men's team won its first Big 12 Conference Outdoor Track & Field title as the 2008 Championships concluded Sunday night at Potts Field.

The title is the first men's league championship since running off a string of eight in a row in the old Mountain States Conference between 1940 and 1947. CU had managed second place finishes on just three occasions, the last of those coming in 1957. Prior to this season, the highest the Buffs had finished in the Big 12 was fourth (2006, 2007).

Colorado scored a school record 138 points in a Big 12 meet, more than the Buffs had in two years back-to-back until the 2006 and 2007 teams combined for 170; the 17-point margin of victory tied for the fourth closest in Big 12 history. 

If anyone says the win by Colorado was fluke, take this into consideration: in the last three outdoor championship meets combined, only Texas (327) has scored more points than the Buffaloes (308); Nebraska is a distant third (271.5).

Colorado scored 65 of its points in the two distance events, snaring 33 in the 10,000-meter run and coming back with 32 in the 5,000-meter run.

CU now has won 31 Big 12 conference titles, regular season and postseason, by Big 12 calculation: men's cross country (12), women's cross country (11), football (5; division titles are included), women's basketball (1), women's soccer (1), men's outdoor track (1). This is the 25th conference title for head coach Mark Wetmore (12 men's cross country, 11 women's cross country, one women's outdoor track and one men's outdoor track).  

"We had a few guys step up across the board, James Begley in the throws, Jeremy (Dodson) in the sprints?too many people to name," Wetmore said. "Before the meet I said our only chance is if we have a complete team coming here.  We knew we would get a lot of distance points, but we wouldn't have won without the distance points.  Also, before the meet I asked the team to just do what you did get here, you don't need to run, jump or throw out of your heads.  But they over ruled me and they run, jumped and threw right over their heads." 

The Buffs had four individual champions in seniors Billy Nelson (3,000-meter steeplechase), Brent Vaughn (5k), James Begley (discus) and junior Kenyon Neuman (10k), who won his title on Friday night. 

The Buffaloes created a stampede in the men's 5,000-meter run, recording six of the top seven places. Vaughn led the way for the majority of the race to earn his third 5k outdoor title. The only year he did not win the 5k title was in 2006 when he won the 10k and didn't run in the 5k.

Brent Vaughn on his way to a third Big 12 5K Outdoor title.
Courtesy: Associated Press

Vaughn crossed the finish in a stadium record 14 minutes and 13.99 seconds. The previous record was 14:26.20 which was set in 1978 by Simon Kilili (Wyoming).

"It was a little bit of a confidence boost, but the main thing was to just go out there and get 10 points," Vaughn said. "I wanted to set a solid pace that my teammates could hold on, but I wanted to lose some competitors. It worked out pretty well"

"Anytime you can get a Big 12 Championship it is pretty special.  Being able to have my family and friends here is pretty special to me.  It has to be big for us, whenever you can get contributions from your entire team it's great.  This is more special than our cross country championships because we have a good showing there every year.  This is a little more special." 

Neuman was second and ran a time of 14:22.61. He was CU's high point scorer with 18 points on the weekend.

"The 10k we just wanted to score as many points as possible, I wanted to stay relaxed and run my race," Neuman said. "I really just wanted to do well in the 10k and then come back today and score high in the 5k."

The only non-CU scorer in the top three was Oklahoma State's David Jankowski who ran a time of 14:35.57.

Freshman Richard Medina placed fourth (14:40.92) and Stephen Pifer was fifth (14:42.01). The sixth and seventh position also belonged to the Buffs with Bradley Harkrader (14:44.05) and Matt Tebo (14:55.35), respectively.

"First of all, I attribute it to all of our guys and all of the hard work that they do, they train everyday of the week," Neuman said.  "Everybody wants to win, everybody has to win, we're all competitive with the guys on our team?it's a good competition of course.  Then there is Coach Wetmore, if he isn't the best coach in the nation he's up there?but I think he's the best coach in the nation.  Through recruiting we have brought in a lot of talent and then Mark (Wetmore) is able to get the best out of them and make less talented guys great."

The Buffs recorded 32 points in the 5,000-meter run and 33 points in the 10k. But CU picked up points in the sprints, as well as field events.

"Of course it's unique; it has never happened before?but something that makes it even more special is the team-wide contribution," Wetmore said.  "We're known as a cross country team, we're known as a distance power house, but it is really critical that the team knows and the community knows that we would not have done this is we came in with just distance runners.  A track team is really quite fragmented until they come together at this meet." 

Billy Nelson successfully defended his Big 12
Outdoor title in the 3,000 meter steeplechase
Courtesy: Associated Press

Nelson won his second Big 12 3,000-meter steeplechase title as he ran to a stadium record 8:53.84. Nelson looked to be calm and collected as he ran to his second straight title as he won in 2007. 

"The strategy was to take it easy for first 2 kilometers and we assumed that everyone else would key off of [the Colorado runners]; they did it in the 10,000 meter run and they did it here as well," Nelson said. "After the first 2 kilometers, we we're going to see where everybody was at and then go from there. Some of the guys were a little more tough from the start, and that was surprising."


Teammate Pete Janson placed third with a time of 9:19.33. Janson and Nelson ran the majority of the race together until the final lap when Nelson pulled out a huge kick the last 400.


"[Pete] was going to lead the first kilometer and I was going to lead the second and then from there we saw where we were and push it until the last kilometer," Nelson said. "It's kind of a na?ve way to think about the race, but that's how we ran. There were guys from Iowa State, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech that we didn't figure would want to push the pace, and that allowed me to go to the front of the lead group to stay with it and look for a kick."

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the day was Begley in the men's discus. He became CU's first discus champion since 1998 (Jeff Singleton). Begley entered the meet with a third place ranking in the conference.  

"Words can't describe what I'm feeling right now," Begley said. "I just hope that the 10 points will go to some good to get a team championship. I know it's going to be a tight race and I don't think anyone put me as getting 10 points. Hopefully it really helped out."


Begley was in third place leading up to the final throw of the event when he popped out a toss of 173-01. Begley had a great weekend. He finished fifth in the shot put and ninth in the hammer throw. Begley also recorded regional marks in the hammer throw and shot put, and is now qualified for regionals in all three of his events.


"I absolutely did not envision this coming into [this weekend]," he said. "Obviously you think about it?you want to be the best in everything you do. So it crossed my mind, but I never thought it would come true. I think it's great for (Colorado throwing coach) Casey (Malone) to finally break out. He's a world-class discus thrower, and my thanks go out to everyone: the athletic trainers, the facilities guys, everyone. It was just a great day."

The men's 4x100-meter relay team broke the school record as they recorded a third-place finish in 39.59 seconds. The previous record was 39.60, which was set in 1972. The 39.59 mark is also a regional mark.

"When I crossed the finish line and had just stopped jogging and Ryan was right there with me," Jeremy Dodson said. "He must have jogged 200 extra meters to be there and he was yelling, "School record, school record!'"

Hugh Charles scored for CU in both the long jump and
4x100 meter relay. Courtesy: Associated Press

Hugh Charles ran the first leg of the relay and took the lead. Ryan Campbell ran the second leg and led the pack by about five meters. Nate Terry picked it up from there, but was unable to maintain the lead as he handed off to Dodson. Dodson, who has served as the main anchor leg for CU maintained a third-place finish for the Buffs and another six points.

Terry, who is typically a 400-meter runner, did an excellent job in a race that typically doesn't play to his strengths. 

"We have a leg that hasn't done less than a 400 all year so we were a little scared about that," Dodson said. "He showed up more than the other three legs. We were just waiting for him to be the best leg and he happened to do that today. Our weakest leg turned out to be our strongest leg today."


"Never in my life did I think I would be running in a 4x100," Terry said. "No way. It's awesome."


"I'm just out there to maintain?they were picking it up the whole way," he continued. "It felt awesome. It's so fun running against good people when you know people are running fast."

The men's 4x400-meter relay placed sixth. They recorded a time of 3:09.27, which was a regional mark and the third fastest time in CU history. The relay was made up of Terry, Campbell, Adrian Gomez and Dodson.

Dodson added more points for the Buffs as he took second in the 200 and placed third in the 100-meter dashes. Dodson set another school record in the 200 by finishing in 20.37. In the 100, he crossed the finish in 10.27, which was personal record and ranks fifth on CU's all-time list.

"I just want to give glory to God," he said. "None of this would be possible without him. It's amazing to set two school records in the same day, but its even more special because it helped the team with the championship. This is what it's all about."

Senior Stephen Pifer recorded his second straight runner-up finish in the 1,500-meter run. He finished in a time of 3:43.65.

The race started just like any other race that Pifer had against Texas' Leo Manzano. Pifer took control of the race from the get-go and lead for the first three laps and the final 400 meters of the race, Manzano used a strong kick to get to the finish ahead of Pifer.

"I wanted to play to my strengths and give a good, honest effort," Pifer said. "I know there are a lot of really good runners in the field?Texas has four guys in the field that can break four minutes (in the mile)?not to mention other guys in the Big 12. I just wanted to get out and get after it.

"My game plan was 60 (seconds), 60, 58 and then bring it home with whatever I had that last lap. I got out a little quicker than I anticipated."

The 2008 Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Champions!
Courtesy: Rupert Berrington, Pro-Motion Ltd

Sophomore Brandin Williams surprised the home crowd as he recorded a third-place finish in the men's javelin. Williams was ranked 13th in the Big 12 heading in to the competition. He advanced to the finals by throwing 199-07 in his third throw. Williams hit a huge personal record and regional qualifying mark of 210-04 in his fourth attempt.

"I just knew I had to do it, because I thought it might have been my last throw in the first round?but I squeaked through to the finals," Williams said. "I just tried to make it a big one.  From the looks of it I was surprised, but all year I thought I should have been throwing this well. I was able to relax to an extent after that throw, but I still wanted to try to win the event."

The mark also ranks seventh CU's all-time list.

After the awards ceremony, Williams gave his medal to teammate Kevin Fasing who was unable to compete in the event. Fasing's elbow has troubling him lately, which was a disappointment for CU since he took fifth in the javelin last season as a freshman. But Williams added six solid points to CU's score to start the day. 

"This is the first year in a while that we've been able to compete for a team championship, so for us to get some points in some places that weren't expected it's huge," Williams said. "Kevin wasn't able to throw today and I actually took his place.  It was nice to be able to step up and compete well in his place."

Everything seemed to fall into place for the Buffs and for Wetmore.

"I'm afraid I've used up my luck for the rest of my life," Wetmore said. "Not only did the team do everything they possibly could, everything turned out here so well.  So many people contributed...people that I can't even name?I would come here and look at something and say ?where did that come from?' and it was somebody that I don't even know. My opponents have come up to me and said how welcomed they felt and how enthusiastic the crowd was, it was really an electric, special time."

Possibly the best part of winning the title is the fact that it was won by the whole team played a part. 

"James Begley threw better than he ever has before to score in two different events (discuss and shot put), I think Jeremy Dodson ran PRs in the 100m and the 200m," Wetmore explained. "The relay, I think the 4x100m broke the school record and the 4x400m?kept saying ?is it (the meet) over, is it over? Do we have to run?' and I said ?Oh, I don't know' because I thought they could still qualify for regionals and they ended up getting sixth and qualifying.  Just think of the work in Dodson's legs over the weekend.  And then the people who didn't score but had personal bests, all across the weekend was really magical."

The women's team didn't fair as well as they placed 12th with 13 points. Eight of those points came from Jenny Barringer.

Barringer had a disappointing day in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Barringer, who lead for the majority of the race, fell to second with under 400 meters to go and placed second overall. Irene Kimaiyo (Texas Tech) won the race in 10:15.43, while Barringer finished second at 10:19.82.

"My training for the last few weeks has had some unexpected interruptions but today, in my eyes, was a slight failure of will and this is why you treasure every victory because they don't come easily," Barringer explained.

This was just the second time Barringer has run the steeplechase this season and the time is comparable to what she ran in 2007 (10:19.34) when she won the title.

"Jenny is fine, first of all that is the nation's leader in the steeplechase," Wetmore said. "Jenny has had a couple of little interruptions, but nothing much.  She is okay, she's 88 percent?we have three weeks to get her to 100 percent.  She is completely healthy; she just needs to catch up on a little bit of training."

A replay of the championship will air on FSN Rocky Mountain on Friday, May 23 from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Colorado is off this weekend but those Buffs who have recorded regional qualifying marks will head to the NCAA Midwest Region Championship in Lincoln, Neb. on May 30-31.





Potts Field (Boulder, Colo.)

Men's Team Scores:

1. Colorado, 138

2. Texas A&M, 121

3. Texas, 96

4. Nebraska, 95

5. Texas Tech, 76

6. Baylor, 72

7. Oklahoma, 55

8. Missouri, 49

9. Kansas, 41

10. Kansas State, 38

11. Iowa State, 26

12. Oklahoma State, 11


Women's Team Scores:

1. Texas A&M, 157

2. Nebraska, 105

3. Texas Tech, 101.5

4. Kansas, 83.5

5. Kansas State, 76.5

6. Oklahoma, 75

7. Baylor, 59

7. Texas, 59

9. Iowa State, 36.5

10. Missouri, 35

11. Oklahoma State, 17

12. Colorado, 13


Field Events (CU Athletes Only)

Men's Javelin: 3. Brandin Williams, 210-4; 12. Kevin Waldron, 190-05; 16. Chase Dukes, 184-00

Women's Discus: 11. Kaity Kark,148-08

Men's Discus: 1. James Begley, 173-01; 10. Patrick Bachman, 153-08


Track Events (CU Athletes Only)

Men's 4x100 Meter Relay: 3. Colorado (Charles, Campbell, Terry, Dodson), 39.59 (school record)

Men's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase: 1. Billy Nelson, 8:53.84; 3. Pete Janson, 9:19.33; 9. Matt Herzl, 9:42.66; 10. Christian Thompson, 9:42.67

Women's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase: 2. Jenny Barringer, 10:19.82; 9. Allison Sawyer, 11:25.45

Men's 1,500-Meter Run: 2. Stephen Pifer, 3:43.65

Men's 100-Meter Run: 3. Jeremy Dodson, 10.27

Men's 200-Meter Run: 2. Jeremy Dodson, 20.37 (school record); 8. Ryan Campbell, 20.99

Women's 5,000-Meter Run: 12. Emily Hanenburg, 18:14.65; 21. Dani Rodriguez, 19:27.02

Men's 5,000-Meter Run: 1. Brent Vaughn, 14:13.99; 2. Kenyon Neuman, 14:22.61; 4. Richard Medina, 14:40.92; 5. Stephen Pifer, 14:42.01; 6. Bradley Harkrader, 14:44.05; 7. Matt Tebo, 14:55.35; 9. Chris Pannone, 15:05.45; 17. Rob Thayer, 15:38.13; 22. Billy Nelson, 15:58.01; 25. Greg Castro, 16:25.82; 26. Matt Herzl, 16: 36.88

Women's 4x400-Meter Relay: 9. Colorado (Maul, Haverty, T.Windham, J. Windham), 3:45.35

Men's 4x400-Meter Relay: 6. Colorado (Terry, Campbell, Gomez, Dodson), 3:09.27



- Colorado -