Jenny Simpson is in prime position this weekend to capture her sixth consecutive title in the 1,500-meter run at the USA Track and Field outdoor championships this weekend. Her continued dominance on the national stage isn't the only way the former Colorado All-American still is helping her alma mater.
Simpson recently completed her fourth season as a volunteer assistant for head coach Mark Wetmore's program. It is a natural side job for Simpson, given how Wetmore continues to serve as her coach, yet it is a responsibility Simpson has taken as seriously as her professional workouts.
"I remember starting on the team as a freshman and seeing Jenny and Kara (Goucher) arrive and it's insane. These people are the best runners in the world," said CU's Kaitlyn Benner, who earned first team All-America honors earlier this month after finishing seventh in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA finals. "And they're talking to me and I can run with them on easy days and stuff like that. I think something I can take from Jenny is how focused she is on every single little thing. She does her running. She does her nutrition. She does her sleeping. I think just looking at her and seeing how she does all the little things as well as all the big things is a really big inspiration."
Recent CU alum Erin Clark will have a chance to compete in the same venue as Simpson when she races in the 5K final at the USATF championships on Sunday. A standout for the Buffs' cross country and track programs over five years, Clark also is grateful for Simpson's influence throughout her CU career.
"I think she definitely has some good wisdom on racing and training and the whole process," Clark said. "It's just really cool to have someone to look up to who has gone through this program, who has run really well here. You can say if you apply yourself, these are the things that can happen."
In 2016 Simpson became the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in the 1,500, winning bronze.
Benner and recent CU graduate Ben Saarel received academic All-America honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Saarel, who graduated in May with a 3.98 GPA as a engineering physics major, was a first team selection. He earned five All-American honors during his CU career and also was named the 2018 Pac-12 men's Scholar Athlete of the Year. Benner was a third-team selection with a 3.93 GPA while majoring in chemical and biological engineering.