Zach Perrin never thought he would be the last man standing.
As the senior from the Colorado track and field program prepares for the final meet of his collegiate career, he does so in somewhat solitary fashion. While five of his CU counterparts on the women's team will be heading to Eugene, Ore., later this week for the NCAA championships, Perrin will be traveling alongside them as the only representative of the men's team.
Certainly Perrin will take it. He just thought he'd have a few more familiar faces among his training partners leading up to the biggest meet of his career.
"It is a bummer. I do miss those guys," Perrin said. "It's kind of bittersweet. You train with those guys the whole year and now I'm just here by myself. But overall, it's fine. It's crazy how fast it's all gone by. Overall I'm just thankful for this program and what they've been able to give me."
In 2015 and 2016 Perrin focused on the 1,500-meter run, placing eighth at the Pac-12 finals in 2016 and qualifying for the NCAA West preliminaries in both seasons. Last year he shifted his focus to the 5,000-meter run, winning a league title while also finishing eighth in the steeplechase. Perrin went on to finish 11th in the 5K at both the NCAA West preliminaries and the NCAA finals.
"The preliminary round is hard to evaluate, because half of the field takes place in another part of the country in different conditions," CU coach Mark Wetmore said. "On the descending order list heading into Eugene, (Perrin) looks like he has a good chance to get on the podium. But I don't know how hard they were running out east, and I don't know what the conditions were.
"Realistically, we just want him to feel well, that he makes no mistakes, that he puts himself in the race and can walk away feeling like he raced well."
Though it was good enough for second team All-American honors, Perrin's 11th-place finish a year ago has been a source of both disappointment and motivation over the past year. Perrin finished ninth at the NCAA preliminaries a week ago with a time of 13 minutes, 50.83 seconds, and he is seeded ninth in the championship heat scheduled for Friday night at 8:25 p.m. MDT.
"The first time on a big stage like that is always nerve-racking, but I went there last year and wanted to compete and run with those guys and I wasn't quite there," Perrin said. "Coming back this year, I just want to make no mistakes and see what I can do since it's my last year.
"Going into the year (last year) my goal was just to get to outdoors. But after making it and getting my butt kicked, I was super-motivated. I wanted to come back and be able to compete with these guys, because I think I can do that. That's been my goal this whole year."