Dani Jones may only be a freshman, but she's headed to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. And the CU long-distance runner isn't going alone.
Jones won the women's 1,500 meters on Saturday on the final day of the NCAA West Preliminaries in Lawrence, Kan., running a time of 4 minutes, 17.16 seconds. She held off Stanford's Molly McNamara (4;17.20) and Oregon's Annie LeBlanc (4:17.36) for the victory.
Teammate Maddie Alm also qualified for nationals in the 1,500, finishing third in her section in 4:18.64 and placing seventh overall.
"The women in the 1,500 were excellent," CU head coach Mark Wetmore said. "On a windy day, when everyone wanted to be careful and tentative, they each took their heat out hard and challenged their opponents to stay with them. Dani ended up the fastest of the day, and Maddie ran her second fastest time ever in very imperfect conditions."
They were two of four Buffs individuals to qualify for the NCAAs on Saturday and nine overall.
"It was a long, hot, chaotic weekend here, but it's finally over and we are mostly happy," Wetmore said. "I thought we might advance about 10 athletes and it turned out to be nine."
Also qualifying on Saturday were sophomore Kaitlyn Benner in the women's 5,000 and senior Morgan Pearson in the men's 5K.
Benner placed fifth in her section in 16:14.27. Pearson was fourth in his race and eighth overall in 14:13.38.
"The 5K's went about as planned," Wetmore said. "We would been disappointed if Morgan or Kaitlyn didn't advance. We had hoped maybe for one or two more, but we got what was expected."
The foursome join Mackenzie Caldwell(women's 10,000), Pierce Murphy (men's 10K), Erin Clark and Val Constein (women's steeplechase) and Adam Peterman (men's steeplechase) as Colorado Buffaloes who are headed to the NCAAs, set for June 8-11 in Eugene, Ore.
"I think we had three runners miss advancing by a combined one second: Elissa (Mann), Connor (Winter) and Nick (Harris)," Wetmore said. "But each can look at their race and find something to learn from. Elissa and Nick can apply those lessons to next year.
2016 NCAA WEST PRELIMINARY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Rock Chalk Park (University of Kansas)
Women's 4x100 meter relay (quarterfinals): 1. Texas A&M, 43.74, 18. Colorado, 45.39
Women's 1,500-meters (quarterfinals): 1. Dani Jones, 4:17.16, 7. Maddie Alm, 4:18.64
Men's 1,500-meters (quarterfinals): 1. Isaic Yorks, Washington, 3:43.14, 12. Nick Harris, 3:44.39; 25. Zach Perrin, 3:46.97
Men's 110-meter hurdles (quarterfinals): 1. Devon Allen, Oregon, 13.37, 18. Jaron Thomas, 13.99
Women's 200 meters (quarterfinals): 1. Deajah Stevens, Oregon, 22.48, 40. Ana Holland, 24.17
Women's 5,000 meters (quarterfinals): 1. Auroca Dybedokken, Okla. St., 16:08.16, 5. Kaitlyn Benner, 16:14.27; 38. Carrie Verdon, 17:25.33; 40. Cayla Seligman, 17:32.77
Men's 5,000 meters (quarterfinals): 1. William Kincaid, Portland, 14:09.13, 8. Morgan Pearson, 14:13.38; 13. John Dressel, 14:17.07; 16. Ammar Moussa, 14:22.54; 25. Pierce Murphy, 14:28.87; 30. Ryan Forsyth, 14:36.47; 31. Joe Klecker, 14:38.57
Men's Discus (first round): 1. Mitchell Cooper, Kansas, 195-0, 18. Brady Rutt, 179-11
Women's Shot Put (first round): 1. Kelsey Card, Wisconsin, 57-0, 37. Mariah Walker, 47-10