Three CU Buffs land in top 11 in NCAA men’s 5,000-meter final

Ben Saarel left it all out on the track two days ago in his quest to reach a championship heat at the NCAA finals for the first time.

While the Colorado junior achieved that milestone feat, Saarel was unable to keep his momentum Friday in the final of the men’s 1,500-meter run in Eugene, Ore. After finishing fifth in the prelims on Wednesday, Saarel fell to eighth in Friday’s championship heat.

Saarel crossed the finish line in 3 minutes, 44.78 seconds. He posted a mark of 3:40.71 in the prelims.

CU very nearly earned three top-10 finishes in the men’s 5,000-meter run on Friday night, as sophomores Joe Klecker and John Dressel finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Klecker finished in 14:38.03 with Dressel (14:38.40) immediately on his heels. Junior Zach Perrin placed 11th at 14:41.50.

All three of the Buffs’ 5,000-meter runners earned All-American honors, with Klecker and Dressel earning first-team accolades while Perrin landed on the second team.

“We got a few people on the podium and got ourselves on the team scoreboard which is the goal of course,” CU coach Mark Wetmore said. “I think guys are a little disappointed in the final points. I think they would have liked to have finished a couple of places higher.

“Ben got eighth in a wild and competitive 1,500 meters. If you look at the overall times you will see a whole bunch of guys within a second of each other. Then about the same thing in the men’s 5,000. A typical men’s pedestrian and cautious race for over half of the way and then mad dash to the finish. Our two sophomores getting on the podium getting seventh and eighth and Zach just missing. He is a rookie in the 5,000 meters having just picked it up this year.”

CU will complete its competition at the NCAA finals on Saturday in three events featuring Buffs harboring hopes of high finishes.

Sophomore Dani Jones will get things started at 4:41 p.m. MDT in the final of the women’s 1,500-meter run. On Thursday Jones posted the top preliminary time in the event with a 4:10.74.

Like Jones, freshman Madie Boreman posted the top preliminary time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Thursday, shattering her personal best by posting a 9:51.00. Boreman will compete for a national title at 4:54 p.m. MDT.

And finally Erin Clark, who earned All-American accolades with her fifth-place finish in the women’s 10,000-meter run on Thursday, completes the NCAA championship events for the Buffs in the 5,000-meter final Saturday at 6:25 p.m. MDT.

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