LOS ANGELES – The University of Colorado dominated the 3,000-meter steeplechase, sweeping both the men’s and women’s titles at the 2013 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships on Saturday.
Seniors Aric Van Halen and Emma Coburn each won their first individual Pac-12 steeplechase titles. Van Halen won his race in 8:41.73 after a runner-up finish in 2012 and Coburn ran 9:55.67 after redshirting the 2012 season. This was the first time since 2007 that CU has taken home the men’s and women’s conference titles; that year Jenny Barringer and Billy Nelson won a pair of Big 12 titles.
Van Halen had a very good race and was running with Cal’s Collin Jarvis who won the steeplechase last year. The duo was 1-2 for the entire race and with about 500 meters to go; Van Halen went to the lead and started to pull away from Jarvis. He continued to put some distance between him and Jarvis and safely cruised to victory a full six seconds in front of Jarvis (8:47.82).
“Aric took a bad spill a couple weekends at the Payton Jordan Invitational,” coach Mark Wetmore said. “He’s been a little beat up since then, so we wanted to run a little bit conservatively today and see how his body felt. I told him that he was going to be fine once the race got going and he was. He’s a good closer, especially when he has some momentum going.”
Van Halen was pleased about his first conference title, especially since he is from the L.A. area so he had a large group of family and friends in the stands cheering him on throughout the race.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I had a lot of people here supporting me and I wasn’t going to let them down. Collin took the race out at a pretty quick pace and it felt good to hang off of him and let him do the work.”
The CU men recorded 22 total points in the race. Blake Theroux closed very well and was just over two seconds behind Jarvis to take third overall in a personal best time of 8:49.99. Hugh Dowdy was right behind Theroux for fourth place in 8:50.75, also a PR. Jonny Stevens rounded out CU’s score in the race as he finished eighth overall with a PR of 9:01.85.
“We had not counted on 22 points from the steeplechase,” Wetmore said. “We thought Aric would be a contender for the win and then the other young guys would get a few points. We knew that if Jonny ran really, really well, that he could sneak up through the group and get eighth. It was the best that we could have hoped for.”
“It felt really good (to score 22 points in the men’s steeple),” Van Halen said. “During the race I could hear the public address announcer saying something about CU and then when I finished and turned around, I saw Blake and Hugh coming and then Jonny too. That was pretty good.”
Coburn also ran a very conservative race compared to what she normally runs as she ran the first half of the race in second with a pack of runners. At the halfway point, Coburn decided it was time to put some space between her and the rest of the field and quickly put 10 meters between her and the chase pack. As Coburn entered the final lap, she had worked up a 25 meter lead and cruised to the finish. Her time broke the Katherine B. Loker Stadium record which had been 10:33.70 (set in 2005).
“Traffic in a steeplechase can be problematic and a person who has no practice in it can be at a disadvantage,” Wetmore said. “When you are a 9:30 steeplechaser in the NCAA, you run alone all of the time, and then when you move on to the next level, all of a sudden the traffic is new. So, some of the plan today was to run a few laps with people splashing and bumping around.”
Despite not have a very aggressive start to her race, Coburn won by almost 13 seconds. Washington’s Marie Lawrence was the runner-up (10:08.19) and Washington State’s Caroline Austin was third (10:08.49).
“This was fun,” Coburn said. “I enjoyed staying with the group for the first few laps. Running in traffic is a skill I need to work on. Then at the end I picked it up so I could make sure we won.”
The CU men also had a nice showing in the 10,000-meter run. Pierce Murphy had a nice race and ended up passing teammate Richard Medina in the final 200 meters to place third overall with a PR of 29:36.48. Medina ended up finishing fifth (29:42.14) and Martin Medina also contributed to the team score with an eighth-place finish (29:52.91). In total, the trio posted 11 points for the Buffs’ team score.
“That is about the top of our most optimistic aspirations,” Wetmore explained. “We thought that Richard would be pretty close to third or fourth in this thing having not run a 10k in a really long time. And I thought Pierce might be about eighth. So, third, fifth and eighth is a nice little chunk of points and a very happy surprise.”
The Buffs picked up some points in the women’s field events. Abrianna Torres tied for sixth in the long jump after recording a jump of 19-11.75, which she earned on her third attempt of the day. Emily Hunsucker placed seventh in the hammer throw with a toss of 199-0 and Kelsey English also earned a point for the Buffs in the high jump, placing eighth overall after clearing 5-8.75.
“All three of them had pretty good days,” Wetmore said. “It’s hard to come here in these conditions and have your very best day, but to score at the conference meet is what we are here to do. This is a year where the women’s team is going to be punctuated by events other than the distances, which is rare.”
In the preliminary rounds, Jake Hurysz advanced to the finals in the men’s 1,500, finishing third in the second heat with a time of 3:42.98. The time placed Hurysz fifth overall heading into the finals at 1:30 p.m. PT on Sunday.
“I would say that Jake’s time was faster than what I would have expected in a conference prelim, but he looked strong in doing it and he looked controlled over the last 150 and I’m pretty sure he left a little in the well,” Wetmore said.
Joe Morris won his section of the 100 in 10.27 to earn an automatic spot in the finals on Sunday at 2:40 p.m. He also advanced to the finals in the 200 after finishing second in the third heat. Morris clocked in at 20.86 after UCLA’s Max Dyce edged him out at the finish (20.85). The 200 finals are on Sunday at 3:55 p.m.
“There is no room for leaving anything in the well in the short sprints,” Wetmore said. “Joe had two nice performances and he is going to be pretty high up in scoring some points for us tomorrow.”
The Pac-12 Championships will conclude on Sunday. The men are fourth overall in the team standings with 34 points and the women are sixth with 27. UCLA is the men’s team leader (53.50) and Arizona leads the women (60).
Katherine B. Loker Stadium (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Men (after 7 events):
1. UCLA, 53.50; 2. Oregon, 49.50; 3. Washington, 37; 4. Colorado, 34; 5. Arizona State, 29; 6. California, 22; 7. Stanford, 14; 8. USC, 12; 8. Arizona, 12; 10. Washington State, 10.
Women (after 8 events):
1. Arizona, 60; 2. Arizona State, 45; 3. UCLA, 33; 4. Stanford, 32; 5. Oregon, 30.50; 6. Colorado, 27; 7. Washington State, 23; 7. Washington, 23; 9. California, 20.50; 10. USC, 9; 11. Oregon State, 6; 12. Utah, 3.
Women’s 1500 (prelims): (1. Jordan Hasay, UO, 4:19.96) 16. Staci Foster, 4:31.57; 27. Camille Logan, 4:37.17
Men’s 1,500 (prelims): (1. Lawi Lalang, UA, 3:41.87) 5. Jake Hurysz, 3:42.98Q; 15. Connor Winter, 3:49.69
Women’s 100-meter hurdles (prelims): (1. Cory Carter, SU, 13.00) 16. Brianne Beemer, 14.19; 19. Abrianna Torres, 14.42
Men’s 110-meter hurdles (prelims): (1. Johnathan Cabral, UO, 13.54) 11. Brock Emory, 14.75
Women’s 400 (prelims): (1. Phyllis Francis, UO, 52.21) 11. Lindsy Mattson, 54.34; 12. Eileen Gehring, 54.42; 21. Bridget Sweeney, 57.08
Men’s 100 (prelims): (1. Aaron Brown, USC, 10.07) 3. Joe Morris, 10.27Q
Men’s 800 (prelims): (1. Nick Hartle, UCLA, 1:49.09) 16. Matt Biegner, 1:52.88
Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase (finals): 1. Emma Coburn, 9:55.67; 9. Diana George, 10:29.97
Men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase (finals): 1. Aric Van Halen, 8:41.73; 3. Blake Theroux, 8:49.99; 4. Hugh Dowdy, 8:50.75; 8. Jonny Stevens, 9:01.85.
Women’s 400-meter hurdles (prelims): (1. Georganne Moline, UA, 56.55) 9. Brianne Beemer, 59.92
Men’s 400-meter hurdles (prelims): (1. Reggie Wyatt, USC, 51.63) 10. Tyler Baker, 53.74
Women’s 200 (prelims): (1. Phyllis Francis, UO, 22.93) 13. Eileen Gehring, 24.17
Men’s 200 (prelims): (1. Aaron Brown, USC, 20.47) 6. Joe Morris, 20.86
Women’s 10,000 (finals): (1. Jen Bergman, UA, 34:17.09) Jana Stolting, DNF
Men’s 10,000 (finals): (1. Lawi Lalang, UA, 28:14.63) 3. Pierce Murphy, 29:36.48; 5. Richard Medina, 29:42.14; 8. Martin Medina, 29:52.91; 14. David Kilgore, 30:55.84; 15. Dillon Shije, 31:58.76
Women’s Hammer Throw: (1. Chelsea Cassulo, ASU, 223-1) 7. Emily Hunsucker, 199-0
Women’s Long Jump: (1. Christabel Netty, ASU, 21-11) t6. Abrianna Torres, 19-11.75
Women’s High Jump: (1. Brigetta Barrett, UA, 6-6.25) 8. Kelsey English, 5-8.75
Men’s Javelin: (1. Sam Crouser, UO, 249-04) 10. Brian Owens, 205-0; 20. Brock Emory, 155-10
Women’s Shot Put: (1. Julie Labonte, UA, 57-00.25) 13. Abrianna Torres, 45-4.50