Despite what looked like a slow start, University of Colorado track and field senior Gabby Scott scratched another second off of her school record in the women's 400-meter dash in the final day of competition at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships Saturday.
Scott entered the meet on the outside looking in for the NCAA Championships, having run the fastest 400 in school history at 53.22 in Arkansas earlier this month. She was ranked 18th in the nation before today and let USC's Kyra Constantine and Bailey Lear get out quick in the first 200 meters of the race. With 100 meters to go, Scott edged Lear out off the final turn and quickly jumped on the shoulder of Constantine who closed the race out and ran the nation's fastest time of 52.07. Scott's time of 52.34 moves her to fourth in the nation and qualifies her for the NCAA Championships.
"I knew I had to get out hard being on the outside," said Scott. "Then it was just about adjusting properly and finishing strong. I was in shock looking at the time knowing that not only did I qualify for nationals, but I would be ranked top-seven in the nation. I came into the weekend on a mission and accomplished it. That's the best feeling."
Scott is now the first Colorado women's sprinter to make it the NCAA Indoor National Championships since Hannah Cooper made it in the hurdles in 2002. She joins Leona Russell in 1996 as the only Colorado woman to qualify for the 400-meters indoor or outdoor.
"I think that was probably the performance of the weekend," said head coach Mark Wetmore on Scott. "Big mark, not a huge surprise but that's a big improvement on a track that is not known for being a good sprinting track. Really good mark for her and she is off to Birmingham."
The other huge mark of the day came in the men's mile when Joe Klecker placed second in a time of 3:58.51. The junior let the lead pack go for the first half of the race, then took the lead and led for all but the final straight-away when he was caught by William Paulson of Arizona State. Klecker's mark is second in school history and qualifies him for the NCAA championships. He is now top-sixteen in the nation in three events for the championships in two weeks.
"Joe wanted to go and get a legitimate sea-level mile time, he has only ever run miles up at our place," said Wetmore. "He wanted a real-life sub-four instead of a converted elevation mark. The early leader didn't help for long and pretty soon Joe was on his own out there grinding it out. One guy out-gunned him in the last straight away, but 3:58.4 is the second-fastest time in Colorado and there has been a lot of great distance runners here. He has had a wonderful winter, mile, 3,000, 5,000 and a year to go still."