Skip to main content

Klecker Makes USA Olympic Team

Jun 18, 2021

EUGENE – It didn't take long for a Colorado track and field alum to make their way onto the Team USA 2020 Olympic Track and Field team after Joe Klecker finished third in the men's 10,000-meter run finals here Friday evening at the first day of the USATF Olympic Trials.
Klecker had to drop a 54.54 second final quarter-mile in the 6.2 mile long race to earn his spot on the team. After the 4,000-meter mark, Klecker never left the top-10 and was in second to start the final 2,000-meters of the race. He dropped to third with 1,200-meters remaining but covered the final 800-meters in 1:58.36 to secure his spot on his first Olympic team.
Nike's Woody Kincaid, a native of Colorado, won the race in 27:53.62, while Grant Fisher finished second in 27:54.29. Klecker finished right on Fisher's heels, a place he stayed at for most of the race, finishing in 27:54.90.
Klecker becomes the first male Buff to run at the Olympics in the 10,000 since his professional coach and former Buff legend Dathan Ritzenhein did in London in 2012. He becomes the fourth CU alum to run the 10k at the Olympics, joining Ritzenhein's two appearances, Jorge Torres' 2008 appearance and Kara Goucher's 2008 appearance.
The Buffs now own two of the first three Pac-12 Olympic positions this year as Morgan Pearson was the first for the men in the triathlon and Klecker is the third following Fisher's finish .61 seconds ahead of him. Galen Rupp, Jake Riley and Abdi Abdirahman are also conference representatives after qualifying in the marathon in February of 2020 where the Conference of Champions swept the men's spots.
The Buffaloes also favored well in the women's 1,500 first round with Jenny Simpson and Dani Jones advancing to the semifinals. Simpson was the top qualifier in 4:11.34 out of the first heat while Jones ran 4:13.47 to place second in the second heat and advance. Micaela Degenero finished 26th overall in 4:18.33 and will not advance.
Also for the former CU athletes, both Maddie Alm and Carrie Verdon moved on to the finals in the women's 5,000 out of the first heat. Alm ran the third-best time today in 15:31.43 while Verdon finished with the ninth-best mark at 15:32.87.
The women's 5,000 semifinals continue tomorrow at 7:40 p.m. MT while the women's 5,000 finals start Monday at 6:40 p.m. The women's steeplechase will be the next event for the Buffs to join in on the action with the first round starting Sunday at 7:35 p.m. with Emma Coburn, Val Constien, Sara Vaughn and Madie Boreman all competing.
Joe Klecker, On Athletics Club
Third Place Overall
On his mom being present...
Having her there gave me a lot of extra push. She has been guiding me this whole process. 
Did you see how far back the group was?
I looked back and couldn't really see them. I don't know how far back they were. This means a lot. My NCAA career was cut short, but making the Olympics today makes up for that. 
On his final 400 kick...
I didn't realize we closed in 54. I was just ready to race. I looked at that and thought I was a little for 1355. Let's do this. Let's make this team. Who makes this team comes down to who wants it the most. You go out there with the content to be an Olympian. You have to make it happen. 
On his international experience...
I got my passport a long time ago. My hair was down to my shoulders. The closest I have been is in Minnesota. I have seen Canada but I don't know what it is like on the other side. 
On the impact his mom has had...
Both my parents have just been such a supporter role. They never pushed me into things. They have just always been there for me when I have questions for them. I was able to succeed because it was me pushing myself. 
On the present and future of the 10K...
I have been racing Grant since high school. I have never beaten him in my career, but that guy runs smart. If I am right behind him, I am probably making the team. He is someone who has pushed me my entire career. Not a single athlete who has been on my team has pushed me like Grant. 
On achieving his goals...
I have been fortunate that I haven't been injured much. There are setbacks along the way. To come here today and get this done means a lot. I let go of a lot of opportunities because Dathan said that our goal is to make an Olympic Team. You gotta have a one track mind. You can't be chasing all these different things. I had to have a pretty perfect race to beat some of these veterans. 
On what Dathan said before the race...
He doesn't believe anyone had a more perfect buildup for this race. First race time I haven't PR'd since he coached me. More fit and more ready than you have ever been. Comes down to who wants it the most. When Dathan speaks, you listen. Do you want to make this team?
On the pressure to make the team...
This is my profession now. I am not in college. On has been an incredible sponsor. I am not just representing them, I am a part of them. I want to perform to elevate the brand. 
On his strong community...
People are a little tougher in Minnesota. So many Olympians have come out of Minnesota and now, to have my name up there, it means a lot. 
Jenny Simpson, New Balance
First place, heat one
First place overall
On the competition
It was windy. It is really fun. It is emotional being out here, because I have had the pleasure of doing it so many times. It never ceases to be a pleasure. I felt so grateful to be a part of it.
On her expectations
The collegians are really sharp and race ready. If I left it to the last 2000, they have a decade on me. I expected the kicks to be really fresh in everybody's legs.
On Shelby Houlihan
Ask me Monday evening. For now I am focusing on just that.
On her plan for the next round
To advance. It is always a dynamic unfolding in the race. Tomorrow my primary focus is to relax. 
On the importance of winning the heat
My high school coach is here. That's 100 percent of that energy. To think my high school coach is still coming to Trials in 2021, I still want to put on a show for people dedicated to me. 
On the extra year in the Olympic cycle
It was all about keeping going. It feels like the build up wasn't exactly familiar. It has been a real challenge to be here and get prepared. Do not think of any one date on the calendar. 
On takeaways from running
I always learn something about when I run. I do get nervous like everyone else, and I do wonder if I have tried this for too long. I still have a deep, deep joy of doing this. 
Dani Jones, New Balance
Second place, heat two
Sixteenth place overall
On the race
Race went smoothly. Reasonable pace, never wan't to be jogging. Felt good, got it done. 
On expectations
Expected what took place. Can't take prelims too lightly. Went out there trying to be calm. It went according to plan
On Shelby
Either way, it's a sad situation no matter what you believe. I honestly am just trying to stay in my lane right now. It's disappointing and upsetting. It hasn't overshadowed the event, there are lots of talented individuals in this event; it's hard to take away attention from the sport. 
On fitness compared to previous years
It's the fittest I've ever been. First year with Team Boss and Joe Bosshard, he has sharpened me. Feel really great and as confident as ever. 
Advice from teammates that she's keeping in mind
Our team is goal-oriented. Go in and get the job done, it's our job. This is supposed to be the fun part. 


(By PB)
18-Jun Friday 5:03 PM Women's 1,500 1st Round Jenny Simpson 3:58.42 4:06.18 3:57.22 2nd NBCSN 1 1 1st Q
Dani Jones 4:04.26 4:04.26 4:04.26 10th NBCSN 2 3 16th Q
Micaela Degenero 4:09.38 4:09.38 4:09.38 24th NBCSN 2 9 26th
6:54 PM Women's 5,000 1st Round Jenny Simpson 14:58.67 N/A 14:56.26 8th NBCSN 2 3 DNS
Carrie Verdon 15:18.56 15:18.56 15:18.56 21st NBCSN 1 7 9th Q
Maddie Alm 15:19.03 15:19.03 15:19.03 24th NBCSN 1 10 3rd Q
8:25 PM Men's 10,000 Final Joe Klecker 27:23.44 27:23.44 27:23.44 7th NBC 1 10 3rd
19-Jun Saturday 7:40 PM Women's 1,500 Semifinals Jenny Simpson 3:58.42 4:06.18 3:57.22 2nd NBCSN
Dani Jones 4:04.26 4:04.26 4:04.26 10th NBCSN
20-Jun Sunday 7:35 PM Women's Steeplechase 1st Round Emma Coburn 9:02.35 9:08.22 9:02.35 1st
Val Constien 9:25.53 9:25.53 9:25.53 4th
Sara Vaughn 9:38.52 9:38.52 9:38.52 16th
Madie Boreman 9:48.09 9:48.09 9:46.48 32nd
21-Jun Monday 6:05 PM Women's 1,500 Final Jenny Simpson 3:58.42 4:06.18 3:57.22 2nd NBC
Dani Jones 4:04.26 4:04.26 4:04.26 10th NBC
6:40 PM Women's 5,000 Final Jenny Simpson 14:58.67 N/A 14:56.26 8th NBC
Carrie Verdon 15:18.56 15:18.56 15:18.56 21st NBC
Maddie Alm 15:19.03 15:19.03 15:19.03 24th NBC
24-Jun Thursday 8:00 PM Women's 800 1st Round Sage Hurta 2:00.62 2:00.62 2:00.62 18th
9:04 PM Men's 5,000 1st Round Joe Klecker 13:06.67 13:06.67 13:06.67 7th
Eduardo Herrera 13:24.46 13:24.46 13:24.46 24th
9:47 PM Women's Steeplechase Final Emma Coburn 9:02.35 9:08.22 9:02.35 1st NBCSN
Val Constien 9:25.53 9:25.53 9:25.53 4th NBCSN
Sara Vaughn 9:38.52 9:38.52 9:38.52 16th NBCSN
Madie Boreman 9:48.09 9:48.09 9:46.48 32nd NBCSN
25-Jun Friday 4:02 PM Women's 800 Semifinals Sage Hurta 2:00.62 2:00.62 2:00.62 18th
26-Jun Saturday 7:44 PM Women's 10,000 Final Makena Morley 31:25.19 31:25.19 31:25.19 13th NBC
Carrie Verdon 32:09.82 32:09.82 32:09.82 31st NBC
Laura Thweatt 32:22.41 32:22.41 31:52.94 44th NBC
27-Jun Sunday 5:30 PM Men's 5,000 Final Joe Klecker 13:06.67 13:06.67 13:06.67 7th
Eduardo Herrera 13:24.46 13:24.46 13:24.46 24th
5:52 PM Women's 800 Final Sage Hurta 2:00.62 2:00.62 2:00.62 18th NBC