AUSTIN, Texas - Aric Van Halen and Shalaya Kipp became the first University of Colorado athletes to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa, after winning their sections of the steeplechase at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships on Friday night.
Van Halen finished his race in 8 minutes, 53.94 seconds, winning the second section of the event. He ran a smart race as he worked his way from the back of the pack to third around the midway point. The top three, including Van Halen, started to pull away from the rest of the field and Van Halen kept improving his position. As he entered the bell lap, he took over second place and heading into the final water jump he propelled his way into first where he would finish just ahead of Lamar's Tom Wade (8:54.89).
"Aric always keeps you on the edge," head coach Mark Wetmore said. "He can be excellent technically but sometimes in a crowd he might not be. He had a couple of hairy hurdles in the first lap or two, but then settled into his rhythm and moved up nicely. He is pretty deadly in the last few hundred meters if he is feeling good."
Kipp's time of 9:58.38 won the third heat of the women's steeplechase, but was also the fastest time of the night. The next closest time was 10:05.11 by Weber State's Amber Henry in the first heat.
"That was everything I was hoping for," Kipp said. "I was hoping to still get a good race in this Austin heat. I'm not very used to it. I really cared about placing but my time was nice too. It feels good to qualify. It's one checkmark off of the to-do list."
Kipp went right to the front of the pack in the beginning of the race and would stay there the entire time. Each lap she added a couple meters to her lead as she pulled away from the field. Kipp's lead was almost 50 meters with two laps left and she easily won the section by almost 80 meters as Oregon's Kimber Mattox placed second in 10:12.89.
"It's hard to know what the times mean today," Wetmore said. "It's what we used to say in New Jersey is a close night. It's hot and humid and very few people ran fast, so her time is probably a pretty good time, especially when you compare it to everyone else.
"It was a good run. We had planned for her to run a little hard because if she runs controlled at the conference and controlled here at prelims, what happens when she finally has to go hard with hard running people. We got what we wanted, which was to get her to advance and it was a good hard effort."
The Buffs also got a good performance from Joe Morris as he advanced to the quarterfinals of the 200-meter dash winning the first heat in 20.82 seconds. Morris got off to a great start, taking the early lead, and was able to hang on to in the last 50 meters as his competitors chased him down. He had missed advancing to the semifinals in Des Moines in the 100 earlier in the day, finishing 20th overall in 10.44.
"I haven't spoken to him, so I don't know, but maybe he was disappointed after the 100 and got revenge on the world by blasting in the 200," Wetmore said. "In this region, against these opponents, you have to blast and bring you're 'A' game every time.
"That was a nice run for him, just shy of his PR of 20.77, so it was an eyelash of what he has run. We are happy to have him through and see what he can do tomorrow."
The NCAA West Preliminary Championships will conclude on Saturday at the Mike A. Myers Stadium.
2012 NCAA WEST PRELIMINARY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Mike A. Myers Stadium (Austin, Texas)
Men's 100-Meters - first round: (1. Andrew Riley, Illinois, 10.03) 20. Joe Morris, 10.44
Women's 800-Meters - first round: (1. Nachelle Mackie, BYU, 2:02.64) 27. Liz Tremblay, 2:18.18
Men's 400-Meter Hurdles - quarterfinals: (1. Amaechi Morton, Stanford, 49.06) 22. Adam Salzmann, 52.51
Men's 200-Meters - first round: (1. Ameer Webb, TAMU, 20.20) 6. Joe Morris, 20.82
Men's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase - quarterfinals: (1. Henry Lelei, TAMU, 8:48.99) 3. Aric Van Halen, 8:53.94; 27. Hugh Dowdy, 9:11.12
Women's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase - quarterfinals: 1. Shalaya Kipp, 9:58.38; 25. Courtney Bouchet, 10:43.23
Men's Hammer Throw -first round: (1. Alec Faldermeyer, UCLA, 219-11) 34. Alex Kizirian, 187-05
Women's High Jump - first round: (1. Toni Young, OSU, 5-10.75) t23. Alyssa Frank, 5-07.25; t23. Kelsey English, 5-07.25