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          SACRAMENTO, Calif. — University of Colorado alums Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp easily qualified here Thursday for the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the USA Track & Field National Championships.
         Coburn, a 2013 CU graduate and current volunteer assistant, took over her first lead from Ashley Higginson with just under three laps remaining.  But two dueled down the stretch, trading off in the lead one more time each before the Buff alumnae pulled away to win the second of two heats in 9:39.26. 
          Kipp, who graduated last month, finished fifth in the heat in a 9:44.41 clocking; it was her second fastest time in the event this year, behind a 9:39.12 she ran at Stanford on May 4.
          “(It’s the) qualifying round, so being careful to do what’s necessary to get through is what we wanted to accomplish,” CU head coach Mark Wetmore said.  “Emma looked pretty comfortable and in control, and Shalaya had a better race here than at the NCAA’s and was also very businesslike.
          “However, in two days, the (weather) conditions are going to be much different; it was probably 68 degrees tonight or so, and we’re expecting it to be in the 90s on Saturday, so we’ll have to comeback with the proper strategy to combat that kind of a change.”
          Bridget Franek won the first heat in 9:39.56; she and Coburn look to continue their rivalry in the final, as Coburn rallied in 2011 to win the national title in the steeple, wrestling it away from Franek, the 2010 champion.   In 2012 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Coburn again emerged as the champion, defeating Franek by three seconds.
          A third runner with ties to the state, Adams State senior Alicia Nelson, also qualified in finishing 13th.  The women’s steeplechase final is Saturday afternoon (2:56 p.m. MDT start).
          On Friday, senior Joe Bosshard will officially complete his CU career in the 5,000-meter run final (10:25 p.m.), with assistant coach Casey Malone (throws) participating in the discus final (4:15 p.m. start).  Former Buffaloes and current assistant coaches Billy Nelson and Jenny Barringer (now Simpson) will also compete, Nelson in the 3,000-meter steeplechase prelim (7:22 p.m.) and Simpson in the 1,500-meters prelim (8:03 p.m.).  Aric Van Halen, a 2013 CU graduate, will join Nelson in the steeplechase; if one or both advance, their final is on Sunday; the 1,500 final is also that day.
           Emily Hunsucker will also end her Buffalo career, as she is the hammer throw on Saturday (Noon start).

Women’s 3,000-Meter Steeplechase (two heats, top four from each plus next six fastest times advanced to Saturday’s final)1. Emma Coburn, CU/New Balance, 9:39.26;  2. Bridget Franek, Oregon TC Elite, 9:39.56;  3. Aisha Praught, Oregon TC Elite, 9:39.77;  4. Nicole Bush, New Balance, 9:40.22;  5. Ashley Higginson, Saucony, 9:40.26;  6. Stephanie Garcia, New Balance, 9:40.27;  7. Sara Vaighn, Brooks, 9:41.55;  8. Rachel Johnson, Baylor, 9:42.82;  9. Courtney Frerichs, Unattached, 9:43.07;  10. Shalaya Kipp, CU, 9:44.41;  11. Carmen Graves, Unattached, 9:47.28;  12. Grace Heymsfield, Arkansas, 9:48.24;  13. Alicia Nelson, Adams State, 9:48.91;  14. Sarah Pease, Rogue AC, 9:48.94.