SEATTLE — University of Colorado true freshman Ben Saarel had an outstanding cross country season and is continuing to perform well as he placed second in the invitational section of the 3,000-meter run at the Husky Classic on Saturday.
Saarel clocked a time of 7:52.61 and was less than half a second behind Adams State’s Kevin Batt (7:52.15) in the first 3k race of his career. The freshman’s time placed him second all-time at CU behind Olympian Adam Goucher (7:46.03). It’s the best finish by a CU freshman ever and currently is tied for sixth in the NCAA Division I standings.
The Park City, Utah native, who was an All-American this past cross country season after an eighth-place finish, led a strong group of Buffs in the elite section of the 3k, with several other cross country All-Americans performing well for the Buffs. Blake Theroux, a two-time All-American in cross country, recorded a fifth-place finish with a time of 7:54.76, which placed him fifth on CU’s all-time list and also ranks 11th on the NCAA list this season.
Another cross country All-American, Jake Hurysz, took 10th overall (7:59.89) and now ranks 10th all-time in CU history. He became just the 10th Buff to ever finish a 3k race in less than eight minutes.
CU had three other runners in the race that also did well. Connor Winter placed 13th (8:02.70), Ammar Moussa was 18th (8:09.09) and Zach Perrin took 21st (8:12.31).
“We have never had three CU guys break eight minutes for the 3k in the same season before,” head coach Mark Wetmore said. “Ben ran the second fastest CU time ever, behind only Adam Goucher's NCAA winning performance of 1998. He is by far the fastest freshman in the NCAA at this distance this season and is sixth overall right now. Blake Theroux became the fifth best CU performer all-time with his run and Jake Hurysz also nipped under 8:00. Connor Winter was just a couple seconds behind.”
The women also did well in the invitational section of the 3k. Sophomore Carrie Verdon picked up a ninth-place finish with a personal best time of 9:18.11, which is eighth on CU’s all-time list. Courtney Bouchet placed 31st with a time 9:53.37.
“Carrie ran a big PR at that distance, which, while it probably won't get her in the NCAA’s top 16 for indoor nationals, is still No. 8 all-time at CU,” Wetmore said.
Late on Friday night, Alex Kizirian took second in the weight throw after recording a toss of 67-4.75. He had the lead going into the final throw before Oregon’s Greg Skipper overtook him with a mark of 68-3.
“Alex had another good mark in the weight throw, throwing over 67 feet,” said Wetmore. “This is his second best throw of the year and certainly can help him advance to NCAAs. He currently sits on the NCAA list at 14th.”
At the Air Force Collegiate Open on Saturday, Mark Jones and Brittany Lewis both earned first place accolades to lead the group of CU athletes competing there.
Jones cleared 7-1.75 to earn first in the high jump and added a sixth-place finish in the long jump (22-10.75). He was also ninth in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing in 8.45.
“Mark Jones competed like a pro today. He sailed over 7-1.75 in the high jump and had fierce attempts. He is ready for something big next weekend at USA’s,” assistant coach Lindsey Malone said.
“Mark had another big jump down at Air Force,” Wetmore said. “This will help in his NCAA advancement, because in the event of being tied with another jumper on the descending list, the tie is broken by second best mark of the year. He presently is tied for 13th and 16 advance.”
Lewis won the long jump with a mark of 18-8.75. Mariah Slack also did well in the long jump with an eight-place performance of 17-5.25, a personal best. Slack competed in the high jump as well and tied for 14th after clearing 5-1. Ewelina Pena did slightly better than Slack, clearing 5-3 to place 13th overall. Jason DeWitt cleared the 14-1.25 mark in the pole vault to tie for thirteenth.
In the throws, Kajsa Bank recorded a thirteenth-place finish in the shot put with a throw of 38-4.75 and was 18th in the weight throw (43-3).
“We’ve been working diligently on making technical gains this season, and today, I saw more of what we have been doing in practice for the group as a whole,” Malone said. “We have a couple of things to tweak, and then we’ll be ready to roll at conference.”
CU’s sprinters finished up action at the Don Kirby Collegiate Elite on Saturday. Lindsy Mattson ran a personal best in the 400-meter dash, crossing the finish eighth overall in 55.03.
“Lindsy had two personal bests in Albuquerque, including the 400-meter performance today of an improvement of nearly a second, which is a lot in a 400,” Wetmore said.
Jaron Thomas was the top male for the Buffs, finishing 12th in the ‘B’ section of the 60-meter hurdles (8.18). The men’s 4x400-meter relay (Jaylyn Mars, Blake Berens, Austin Mitsch and Tyler Baker) placed 16th after clocking a finish of 3:17.73.
The next meet on the schedule for CU is the USATF Indoor Championships Feb. 21-23 in Albuquerque, N.M., but only a couple of athletes will compete. The next big meet for the Buffs will be the MPSF Championships Feb. 28-March 1 in Seattle.
“Alex Kizirian and Mark Jones will both compete next weekend at the USATF Indoor Nationals, so have that meet and then the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation meet a week later to keep improving,” Wetmore said. “Other than the two going to Albuquerque next weekend, everyone now settles back into a block of training.”
Noteworthy: Volunteer assistant coach Jenny Simpson finished second at the USA Cross Country Championships at Flatirons Golf Course on Saturday. She recorded a time of 27:34.60 on the 8k course…Former Buff Brent Vaughn finished sixth in the men’s open 12k at the USA Championships (37:08)…Emma Coburn, another volunteer coach, finished sixth in the Wanamaker Mile (4:32.01) at the 107th Millrose Games in New York.
Dempsey Indoor (Seattle, Wash.)
Track Events (CU Athletes Only)
Women’s 800-meters: (1. Liga Velvere, Vandal TC, 2:06.93) 41. Olivia Rintala, 2:18.20
Women’s 3,000-meters: (1. Bret McDaniel, Georgia, 9:47.75) 22. Maddie Alm, 9:59.94
Men’s 3,000-meters: (1. Keifer Johnson, Western State, 8:07.79) 30. Adam Peterman, 8:22.54
Women’s mile: (1. Rebecca Mehra, Stanford, 4:48.84) 3. Melanie Nun, 4:49.69; 13. Jenny DeSouchet, 4:53.47; 38. Lucy May, 5:02.97
Women’s Invitational 3,000-meters: (1. Laura Thweatt, Boulder TC, 9:01.58) 9. Carrie Verdon, 9:18.11; 31. Courtney Bouchet, 9:53.37
Men’s Invitational 3,000-meters: (1. Kevin Batt, Adams State, 7:52.15) 2. Ben Saarel, 7:52.61; 5. Blake Theroux, 7:54.76; 10. Jake Hurysz, 7:59.89; 13. Connor Winter, 8:02.70; 18. Ammar Moussa, 8:09.09; 21. Zach Perrin, 8:12.31
Late Friday Night Field Events (CU Athletes Only)
Women’s Weight Throw: (1. Chiona Amaechi, Cal, 71-4.25) 12. Emily Hunsucker, 54-10.75; 30. Sophie Hallam-Eames, 47-5.25
Men’s Weight Throw: (1. Greg Skipper, Oregon, 68-3) 2. Alex Kizirian, 67-4.75
Air Force Collegiate Open
Cadet Field House (USAF Academy, Colo.)
Field Events (CU Athletes Only)
Men’s High Jump: 1. Mark Jones, 7-1.75
Men’s Pole Vault: (1. Victor Weirich, una, 17-10.5) t13. Jason DeWitt, 14-1.25
Men’s Long Jump: (1. Donald Wilcox, una, 23-9.5) 6. Mark Jones, 22-10.75
Men’s Shot Put: (1. Paul Davis, McMurry, 63-2.75) 18. Jason DeWitt, 42-4.25; 28.
Women’s High Jump: (1. Alison Forrester, CSU, 5-9.75) 13. Ewelina Pena, 5-3; t14. Mariah Slack, 5-1
Women’s Long Jump: 1. Brittany Lewis, 18-8.75; 8. Mariah Slack, 17-5.25; 20. Ewelina Pena, 15-3.5
Women’s Shot Put: (1. Aaliyah Pete, CSU, 49-11.25) 13. Kajsa Bank, 38-4.75
Women’s Weight Throw: (1. Kiah Hicks, CSU, 61-4.5) 18. Kajsa Bank, 43-3
Track Events (CU Athletes Only)
Men’s 60-Meter Hurdle Prelim: (1. Sam Little, CSU, 8.16) 9. Mark Jones, 8.45
Women’s 60-Meter Hurdle Final: (1. Tiana Alexander, McMurry, 8.55) 7. Brittany Lewis, 9.03
Women’s 60-Meter Hurdle Prelim: (1. Nicole Laws, BYU, 8.65) 8. Brittany Lewis, 9.09
Women’s 200-Meters: (1. Arlene Gowarm BYU, 24.61) 30. Ewelina Pena, 27.74; 31. Mariah Slack, 28.04
Women’s 400-Meters: (1. Madison Reynolds, Oral Roberts, 54.96) 10. Brittany Lewis, 58.99
DON KIRBY COLLEGIATE INVITATIONAL
Albuquerque Convention Center (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Track Events (CU Athletes Only)
Men’s 60-Meter Hurdles Section B Prelims: (1. Devon Allen, Oregon, 7.93) 12. Jaron Thomas, 8.18
Women’s 400-Meters: (1. Shakima Wimbley, Miami, 53.68) 8. Lindsy Mattson, 55.03
Men’s 4x400 Relay: (1. Chambers/Delaney/Galpin/Berry, Oregon, 3:06.78) 16. Mars/Berens/Mitsch/Baker 3:17.73