CU track opens outdoor season this weekend

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As the weather turns and more on more people seek out the sunshine, the University of Colorado track and field team is moving into the bulk of their season. The indoor season concluded this past week at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference Championships, but the Buffs are now gearing up for what is sure to be a productive outdoor season.

Colorado’s strong suit has always been long-distance, and that has been proven by the cross country team, who, this past year, had both the men’s and women’s team take second in the NCAA Championships.

The Buffs continue this trend on the track, after qualifying seven athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon (track town USA), last year, six of which were long distance runners. Of those seven athletes, six will be returning to the team this season.

Senior Pierce Murphy, who joined the team as a walk-on four years ago, has proven himself to be the team’s top runner. After finishing fifth last year in the 10,000-meter, or 25 lap, race at Eugene he stands to improve even more this year. The Hawaii native recently concluded his final indoor season with a fifth-place finish in the men’s 5,000-meter race at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Other athletes returning to the track include junior Ben Saarel, who finished 1,500-meter run at last year’s championships in 19th in the semi-finals with a time of 3:47.07.

Senior Morgan Pearson finished the 5,000-meters in 17th at last year’s championships, and hopes to have another opportunity too compete on college’s biggest track stage.

Erin Clark returns for her sophomore season after a notable first season as a Buff. As a freshman, Clark ran the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the NCAAs, crossing the finish in 15th after an impressive performance.

Senior Abrianna Torres looks to improve her finish in the heptathlon after qualifying for the championships last season, the first Buff to qualify in the event since 1997. The seven-event athlete looks to make strides on the track, as well as in the field events. The heptathlon consists of shot put, long jump, high jump, javelin throw, 200-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles and 800-meter run. These athletes specialize in diversity in all disciplines of the sport.

Colorado picked up a few key members this past year with their new freshmen class. Many of these athletes hold records and are top finishers in their state high school competitions. Some have also competed on a national stage.

The Buffs picked up freshmen recruits Alexander Billing and Trenton Stringari to add some depth to the hurdling teams. Billing is the current California state champion in the 110-meter hurdles and place 15th in the even at the USA Junior Track & Field Championships.

Strnigari will join Billing in the hurdles. He is a back-to-back Colorado State champion in the 300-meter hurdles, as well as the title holder in the 110-meter hurdles.

John Dressel, a distance runner, looks to become one of the top performers for the Buffaloes, after campaigning to make the CU cross country team earlier this year. Dressel finished 26th at the championships.

The Buffs also picked up a talented group of women this season with freshmen Delaney Hall and Dani Jones.

Hall will join the throwing team for javelin, she was ranked 19th in the country out of high school, and is a two-time Oregon State Champion.

Jones will hopefully replace Sara Sutherland, who graduated last year, as one of the Buffs top long distance runners.  Jones joins the team after a 49th place finish at the Cross Country NCAAs and seven Arizona State titles on the track.

Colorado adds 29 true freshmen to the roster, including two sets of twin sisters.  It is likely that head coach Mark Wetmore, in his 21st season at the helm, has high expectations for this talented group of tracksters.

The Buffs have a long outdoor season ahead, beginning Saturday Mar. 19 in Boulder with the Jerry Quiller Classic. The team will take on other Colorado schools, including CSU, Air Force, UCCS, Metro State as well as Wyoming. Many other runners will join the meet, running unattached. The meet will begin at 11 a.m. on Potts Field.

Olivia Butrymovich

Olivia Butrymovich is the Assistant Sports Editor at the CU Independent. She is a sophomore at CU pursuing degrees in journalism and political science.

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