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Due to an editing error, The Campus Press mistakenly ran a captionless photograph of student-athlete Peter Janson in conjunction with this story. Janson was not involved with the suspensions in any way.
Recent player suspensions and dismissals from the CU track and field team will not spoil an otherwise promising season, according to Head Coach Mark Wetmore.
A statement released by Athletic Director Mike Bohn announced that a number of CU track and field members were dismissed from the team earlier this month for “conduct that is unbecoming a University of Colorado student-athlete and inconsistent with the values of our department.”
Wetmore, coach of the team since 1995, notified the runners ealier in the month of their dismissal.
“It’s never fun to sanction or reprimand somebody,” Wetmore said. “We would all rather have a fun time riding off to track meets and singing songs on the bus.”
Wetmore said the dismissals would not affect the overall play of the track and field team, and while there may seem to be internal strife, the team has never been stronger.
“Right now, and the last couple of years, I think we’ve had abnormally good team chemistry,” Wetmore said. “We have people who are good friends across event areas.”
Distance runners, like Stephen Pifer, 22, and Liza Pasciuto, 20, typify the team’s spirit and can-do attitude and help to display the strength that remains in the team.
Pifer, a senior geography major, is the only CU runner, past or present, to run a sub-4-minute mile. What he enjoys most is the individuality of the sport.
“I like that you control what the outcome is going to be. It’s not like basketball or football. It’s pure. What you run, nobody can take that away from you,” Pifer said.
Not only can Pifer lay claim to the fastest mile in CU history, but he is also a member of another select group.
“We’ve had a lot of really good guys come through here,” Pifer said. “But there’s only been a handful of guys that have been on two national championship teams, and for me to be a part of that feels pretty good.”
The team rarely takes a day off, and that kind of dedication makes the squad that much better, said Pasciuto, a sophomore economics major.
“In between seasons we get about two weeks off to rest,” she said. “So in total we get about six weeks in a year off.”
With all that practice, Pasciuto hopes to make it back to Nationals, where she wants to improve from last year’s ninth-place finish and make it in the top five.
Jeremy Dodson, a sophomore track and field athlete, thinks there is more to his sport than what meets the eye.
“You really have to get focused before you run,” he said. “It’s more than just being in good physical shape.”
Dodson, who transferred from the University of Arkansas to CU this past year, said there is definitely a difference between the two schools’ sports community.
“There’s a difference in culture,” he said. “The chemistry here at CU is very connected. They’re all supportive of one anther. We won’t get lost in the hype when we start competing for national titles.”
Dodson shares an optimistic view of his team’s future. Despite the recent suspensions and dismissals, he recognizes that there is still something special within the team.
“Track is the root of all sport. We work hard. We use every muscle in our bodies. It’s not easy being a runner,” Dodson said. “Although everybody can run, not everybody can run like we do.”
Last year, both CU’s men’s and women’s cross country teams won the Big 12 Championships.
For questions or comments, contact Evan Acker at Evan.Acker@thecampuspress.com.