FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — One will be going for her fourth time, the other for his first, as two University of Colorado outdoor track performers qualified for the NCAA Championships in two weeks here Friday at the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Track West Preliminaries.
Senior Shalaya Kipp cruised to an easy win in her heat of the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, flirting with the NCAA West Prelim record until relaxing a bit on her final lap. She clocked in with a 10:03.87 time, her second-fastest this spring and well over six seconds ahead of SMU’s Tova Magnusson. The winners of the other two heats, Arkansas’s Grace Heymsfield (10:01.89) and Baylor’s Rachel Johnson (9:53.56) posted faster times to win their races to edge Kipp overall, though those hold little significance until they race against each other in two weeks. It will mark the nine-time All-American’s fourth trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
“For Shalaya, it was another day at the office, a very businesslike run,” CU head coach Mark Wetmore said. “Simply, come in and do what you need to do, don’t wreck yourself and go out and train again tomorrow. Nobody here was really trying for records, at least from our team.”
Freshman Melanie Nun ran in the same heat as Kipp and recorded a personal best of 10:18.86, lopping nearly eight seconds off her previous top time of 10:26.56 that earned her a fourth place finish in the Pac-12 Championships. It was good for fifth place in the heat; the top three finishers in each of three heats and the next three fastest regardless of which heat would advance to the national semifinals in Eugene, so Nun had to sit back and watch the next two heats in nervous anticipation.
After the second heat, she held the third and final qualifying spot, and thus needed the fourth time in the third and final heat to be slower; however, it wasn’t meant to be for the CU frosh, as the fourth and fifth runners in the third heat just edged her out. Nun had to settle for 14th overall, 3.87 seconds back of qualifying, though she did place second among the seven freshmen in the race.
“Regardless, it was a great run for her,” Wetmore said. “It was a little warm and very humid here, and a 10:18 time more often than not is not going to be good enough, usually about 10:12 gets you in. But the conditions slowed things up a bit, and she had a chance. She still knocked about eight seconds off her previous best and to do so here was a great accomplishment for her.”
Junior Blake Theroux ran a personal best 8:49.95 in the first heat of the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, in which he led through the 600-meter split and then jostled back and forth ahead of the pack through 1,800 before eventually finishing fourth; Arkansas’ Stanley Kebenei won the heat in 8:42.61, edging Oregon’s Tanguy Pepiot by six-one hundredths of a second. As with the women, the top three each heat plus the next three fastest performers would advance to Oregon, so Theroux had to watch the scoreboard for the next two heats.
The first five runners in the second heat all logged faster times, leaving little wiggle room in the last heat, as the fourth place finisher needed to have a slower time than Theroux for him to advance; when the smoke cleared, Boise State’s Zach Wiles finished in 8:50.46 and Theroux earned the 12th and final spot and thus had his ticket punched to Eugene, the first time he has qualified for the NCAA Championships.
“Blake ran pretty well for the conditions down here, conditions we don’t experience very often in Boulder,” Wetmore said. “He noticed the pace was slow early on, so he took the lead, which most people try to avoid in distance races. Then we had to hold on and watch two more races and he made it in, so good for him and we’re excited.”
Theroux previous best was 8:49.99 for a third-place effort at the 2013 Pac-12 Championships; he repeated that finish earlier this month in the league meet with his previous season-best time of 8:52.93.
Senior Shaw Gifford posted a 21.68 time in the 200-meter dash, finishing 40th and thus did not advance into Saturday’s quarterfinals, as the top three in each of six heats and then the next six fastest sprinters moved on. It was his sixth-best time this spring, when he recorded a personal best 21.01; the final qualifying time to move on in the extremely talent-laden race was 21.18, so he would have needed to run the second-fastest 200 of his career to advance. Tulsa’s Bryce Robinson posted the fastest time of the 48 competitors at 20.48; Clayton Vaughn of Texas-Arlington won Gifford’s heat in 20.80.
Freshman Jaron Thomas competed in two events here. On Friday in the 110-high hurdles, he was seventh in his heat and 32nd overall in a 14.34 time, his fifth-fastest of his collegiate career, but just a tenth of a second off his second-best and nearly matching his efforts at the Pac-12 championships (14.29) and at the Mt. SAC Relays (14.30). There were 14 sub-14.0 times run in the six heats, topped by Texas A&M’s Wayne Davis who posted a 13.46; Colorado State senior Trevor Brown won Thomas’ heat in 13.67, the fourth best time Friday. Thursday, he was 34th in the 400-intermediate hurdles in a 52.37 time, his fourth-best this spring. He was fifth in his heat, 2.53 seconds back Kansas’ Michael Stigler, who posted the fastest time in all six heats of 49.84.
Wetmore said that Thomas had about half of a false start before catching himself and lurching a bit, not enough for a foul or to be tossed from the race. But that one back-and-forth moment cost him as everyone else shot out of the blocks.
“By the time he gathered himself, everyone else was gone,” Wetmore said. “But he’s a freshman, he was surrounded by the absolute best in the nation and both events and the experience were new to him. He’s got a great future and we’re excited for him.”
Alex Kizirian finished 33rd in the men’s hammer throw, with his best effort his first of the day at 190 feet, 11 inches; it was the CU junior’s fourth best throw of the spring. He followed that up with throws of 178-3 and 181-9 on his second and third tries, but the cutoff was 197-4 to make the final 16 and earn three more throws for the top 12 to advance to the quarterfinals in Eugene. Oklahoma State’s Nick Miller had the day’s best throw, 234-1, which he made on his sixth and final attempt of the day.
The final day of NCAA preliminary action is Saturday, with CU athletes entered in the quarterfinals of the men’s 1,500-meter run, Jake Hurysz and freshman Ben Saarel, both of whom advanced out of Thursday’s first round. They will both also compete in the 5,000-meter run with Joe Bosshard, Pierce Murphy, Morgan Pearson and Connor Winter, while Carrie Verdon and Abby Levene will race in the women’s 5K version. In addition, Emily Hunsucker, the No. 3 seed in the women’s hammer throw, and Kelsey English, the co-No. 4 seed in the women’s high jump will see their first taste of preliminary action this week, rounding out the 18 Buffaloes who qualified to participate in the three-day event.
NCAA West Preliminary Results / Day Two
(Events featuring Colorado Entries Only)
Men’s Hammer Throw (Top 12 advanced to Quarterfinals In Eugene)—1. Nick Miller, Oklahoma State, 234-1; 2. Greg Skipper, Oregon, 225-1; 3. Michael Lihrman, Wisconsin, 223-1; 4. Jon Lehman, Minnesota, 214-0; 5. Curtis Wideman, Southern Illinois, 211-0; 6. Casey Strong, Texas A&M, 206-9; 7. Chris Nicasio, Ar State, 205-4; 8. Jordan Young, Arizona, 205-2; 9. Nathaniel Marshall, Williams, 203-5; 10. Will Lohman, Nebraska, 203-3; 11. Lucas Rowley, Stanford, 202-11; 12. Jordan Arakawa, Eastern Washington, 202-4. CU Result: 33. Alex Kizirian, 190-11.
Men’s 110-High Hurdles (six heats; top three from each plus next six times advanced to Saturday quarterfinals) —1. Wayne Davis, Texas A&M, 13.46; 2. Johnathan Cabral, Oregon, 13.54; 3. Devon Allen, Oregon, 13.57; 4. Trevor Brown, CSU, 13.67; 5. Aleec Harris, USC, 13.69; 6. Omar McLeod, Arkansas, 13.70; 7. Vanier Joseph, Illinois, 13.71; 8. Isaac Williams, Houston, 13.82; 9. Spencer Dunkerly-Offor, Texas, 13.83; 10. Durell Busby, UWM, 13.85. CU Result: 32. Jaron Thomas, 14.34.
Men’s 400-Intermediate Hurdles (Thursday; six heats; top three from each plus next six times advanced to Friday quarterfinals) —1. Michael Stigler, Kansas, 49.84; 2. Timothy Holmes, Baylor, 50.35; 3. Mate Koroknai, Nebraska, 50.42; 4. Gregory Coleman, Texas A&M, 50.54; 5. Tibor Koroknai, Nebraska, 50.63; 6. Cam Viney, Illinois, 50.62; 7. Josh Taylor, SFU, 50.93; 8. Mark Carlson, BYU, 50.99; 9. Keyunta Hayes, UTSA, 51.01; 10. Karl Moran, UC Davis, 51.03. CU Result: 34. Jaron Thomas, 52.37.
Men’s 200-Meter Dash (six heats; top six from each plus next six times advanced to Saturday quarterfinals) —1. Bryce Robinson, Tulsa, 20.48; 2. Aaron Brown, USC, 20.55 3. Everett Walker, Baylor, 20.57; 4. Shavez Hart, Texas A&M, 20.60; 5. Prezel Hardy, Texas A&M, 20.66; 6. Senoj-Jay Givans, Texas, 20.73; 7. Arthur Delaney, Oregon, 20.76; 8. Clayton Vaughn, UT-Arlington, 20.80; 9. Ronnie Baker, TCU, 20.81; 10. Brandon Stryganek, Illinois, 20.91. CU Result: 40. Shaw Gifford, 21.68.
Men’s 3,000-Meter Steeplechase (three heats, top three from each plus next three times advanced to semifinals in Eugene)—1. Anthony Rotich, UTEP, 8:38.80; 2. Stanley Kebenei, Arkansas, 8:42.61; 3. Tanguy Pepiot, Oregon, 8:42.67; 4. Brandon Doughty, Oklahoma, 8:44.34; 5. Emil Blomberg, UT-Arlington, 8:44.78; 6. Danny Thater, Tulsa, 8:45.30; 7. Robert McCann, Drake, 8:46.44; 8. Alex Deir, Oklahoma, 8:46.69; 9. Caleb Hoover, NAU, 8:47.09; 10. Andrew Gonzales, Washington St., 8:47.14; 11. Alex Brill, Wisconsin, 847.59; 12. Blake Theroux, CU, 8:49.95.
Women’s 3,000-Meter Steeplechase (three heats, top three from each plus next three times advanced to semifinals in Eugene)—1. Rachel Johnson, Baylor, 9:53.56; 2. Grace Heymsfield, Arkansas, 10:01.89; 3. Shalaya Kipp, CU, 10:03.87; 4. Liberty Miller, Washington, 10:07.52; 5. Marisa Howard, Boise State, 10:07.57; 6. Tova Magnusson, SMU, 10:10.06; 7. Kristen Zillmer, Illinois State, 10:10.76; 68. Andrea Harrison, BYU, 10:10.76; 9. Megan Patrignelli, Oregon, 10:10.86; 10. Tansey Lystad, Portland State, 10:11.57; 11. Jessica Kamilos, Arkansas, 10:13.68; 12. Catie Arrigoni, Eastern Washington, 10:14.99. Did Not Qualify: 13. Kelli Budd, Minnesota, 10:16.79; 14. Melanie Nun, CU, 10:18.86.