Friday evening’s distance events at the CU Invitational kicked off with the men’s seeded mile and a strong promise to nip at the elusive sub 4 mark on Colorado soil. Ben Saarel and Zach Perrin pushed the pace as the crowd roared each time they rounded the homestretch curve, but it was Perrin who inched out Saarel at the line with final times of 4:03.21 and 4:03.40.
“Zach and Ben ran exactly what I hoped they would. The goal tonight for them was to get NCAA qualifying marks. Both of them running in the low 4:03 that will convert to sea level marks that will certainly get them into the NCAA, it always has. Good night for those two guys.”
Heading into her first race since Cross Country Nationals where she placed 10th overall, CU standout Dani Jones has been fighting injuries for the best part of the new year, reportedly tracking many hours on the Alter-G treadmill and perhaps she was feeling perhaps a bit apprehensive.
“My coaches reminded me i’ve done a lot of long consistent work over the last 2 years, and that will pay off, and it did tonight”
Dani Jones took out the race with pacer Sarah Sutherland with a hot first lap, then after 1000m Jones was on a mission all on her own. While she wasn’t initially looking to set the CO soil record, which was recently lowered by CU Alum Emma Coburn at a meet at Western States to 4:38, she knew with a lap to go, she was well within reach. And reflected on Coburn’s recent accomplishment, “Kudos to Emma for running that fast at seven thousand feet, i think they need to have elevation records, not soil records.”
“All we hoped for Dani today, was an NCAA qualifying mark which, up here is about 4:44,” head coach Mark Wetmore said. “So she [Jones] overruled the plan completely and ran the fastest women’s mile ever within the state of Colorado. Needless to say it qualifies for NCAAs but converted it is either the second or third fastest time for a CU woman.”
As Jones looks to improve, she sees opportunity in taking on new challenges.
“I don’t like to put limits on myself as a runner. i know runners like Emma and Jenny are good all the way around, and you have to be to run at the next level. So i kind of have an open mind about all events and tell myself I can do what ever they put me in.”
Jones will be joining CU Alumni Emma Coburn and Jenny Simpson in the 3000m next weekend at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.
Full Meet Results http://results.tfmeetpro.com//Colorado_Invitational_2018/
Photos of the CU Invitational Mile
Photos by Peter N. Jones and Todd Straka