STANFORD, Calif. – Just two days after a 1,500-meter race at the 104th Drake Relays in Iowa, University of Colorado senior Emma Coburn won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford on Sunday night with the best time in the world this year.
Coburn won in nine minutes, 28.26 seconds, just about five seconds off of her personal best (9:23.54). The race wasn’t a typical steeplechase for Coburn because unlike many others she has run early in the season in the U.S, this time she had competition. Jamie Cheever (Brooks) pushed Coburn in the final 600 meters of the race and finished second in 9:29.13.
“I’m happy that I can run 9:28 two days after my 1,500,” Coburn said. “I will have to run faster this year if I want to be confident about making a world team.”
Coburn went to the front of the field right from the start, which is typically how she likes to run the race. She looked smooth and relaxed and had about 10 meters on the field after the first complete lap and continued to add to it. About halfway through the race, Cheever started to pull away from the chase pack and gained some ground on Coburn. Entering the bell lap, Cheever was right on Coburn’s shoulder, but Coburn was able to hang on for the win.
“In the steeple, if you are tired, you are tired,” Coburn said. “There isn’t another gear you can change to with the barriers. I just tried to close as well as I could.”
Cheever and Coburn blew away the rest of the field with the third-place finisher, Amber Henry (Weber State), coming in at 9:51.55.
Coburn is now the NCAA leader in the 1,500 (4:11.36) and the steeplechase, doing both within about 48 hours of each other. She is also on pace to break former Buff and current volunteer assistant coach Jenny (Barringer) Simpson’s NCAA steeplechase record of 9:25.54. Coburn ran under that time twice in 2012 when she was redshirting.
Aric Van Halen finished 14th in the top section of the men’s steeplechase and was one of just three collegiate athletes in the section. Van Halen recorded a time of 8:44.32, but could have finished higher had he not fallen into a barrier heading into the final lap. After the fall, he got up and continued on with the race and would finish with the seventh best time in the NCAA this season.
Richard Medina had a great first 5k run of the season, opening with a time of 13:45.50, just one second shy of his PR (13:44.34) to place fourth in the second section of the race. Medina was the top collegiate in the heat and edged out North Carolina State’s Andrew Colley (13:45.69) in the final stretch.
Jake Hurysz closed well in the second heat of the 1,500 to finish fifth overall (3:40.63) en route to becoming the third fastest CU performer. Only Alan Culpepper (3:39.77) and Stephen Pifer (3:40.51) have ever run faster in the black and gold. Hurysz’s time is the fastest by a Buff since 2005 and he was the second-highest placing NCAA runner in the heat.
The race got out to a quick start and after the first 300 meters, Hurysz had worked his way into the middle of the field. He continued to do work and with one lap remaining was about sixth. The final 400 was a sprint to the finish as everyone was giving it all they had. Hurysz moved to the outside and used great closing speed to hold off Oregon’s Patrick Todd at the finish (3:41.09).
Freshman Carrie Verdon also had a nice 1,500-meter run, her first at sea-level. She placed fourth in the fourth section, crossing the finish in 4:25.46, just about 4.5 seconds behind the heat’s winner, Clerc Simpson (Brooks), who came in at 4:20.99.
Connor Winter and Blake Theroux each raced in the third section of the men’s 1,500 and earned personal bests in the process. Winter ended up placing fourth after leading at a couple of different points during the race and finished in 3:44.53. Theroux placed seventh overall with a time of 3:45.17.
The Pac-12 Championships will start next weekend, May 4-5, in Los Angeles with the combined events portion of the meet. The rest of the championships will be May 11-12. USC is serving as the host this year.
Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational
Cobb Track & Angell Field (Stanford, Calif.)
TRACK EVENTS (CU Athletes only)
Women’s 1,500 – section 4: (1. Clerc Simpson, Brooks, 4:20.99) 4. Carrie Verdon, 4:25.46
Men’s 1,500 – section 5: (1. Yves Sikubwabo, Guelph, 3:48.29) 8. Hugh Dowdy, 3:55.63
Men’s 1,500 – section 4: (1. Christopher Antonio Sand, Mexico, 3:43.65) 9. Matt Biegner, 3:51.76
Men’s 1,500 – section 3: (1. Nick Hutton, Minnesota, 3:42.73) 4. Connor Winter, 3:44.53; 7. Blake Theroux, 3:45.17
Women’s 3,000-meter Steeplechase – section 1: 1. Emma Coburn, 9:28.26
Men’s 3,000-meter Steeplechase – section 1: (1. Matt Hughes, unattached, 8:21.34) 14. Aric Van Halen, 8:44.32
Men’s 1,500 – section 2: (1. Alex Hatz, Wisconsin, 3:39.87) 5. Jake Hurysz, 3:40.63
Men’s 5,000 – section 2: (1. Nouredine Smail, Adp/Sharkies, 13:26.67) 4. Richard Medina, 13:45.50; 13. Ammar Moussa, 13:57.96