Steeplechase tradition continues for CU track as Val Constien places fifth at nationals

It was a strong surge to the finish for the Colorado Buffaloes on the final day of the NCAA track and field championships. Particularly by junior Val Constien.

Constien continued the Colorado track and field program’s penchant for producing standout steeplechase performers by placing fifth in the event Saturday during the final day of the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Constien moved up a spot and took more than two and half seconds off her semifinal performance, placing fifth in 9 minutes, 48.40 seconds. Constien, who collected her first All-American honor, finished in 9:50.98 while placing sixth in the semifinals on Thursday.

While there was only one senior in the top four ahead of Constien, the rate of her rapid improvement this spring should have her in the mix for a national championship in the steeplechase next year. The Buffs have produced six national championships by three different athletes in the event since 2006, an impressive list that includes Olympians Jenny Simpson (2006, 2008, 2009), Emma Coburn (2011, 2013), and Shalaya Kipp (2012).

Sophomore Allie Ostrander from Boise State won Saturday’s steeplechase final with a time of 9:39.28.

Senior Erin Clark wrapped up her stellar CU career Saturday evening in the championship race of the 5,000-meter run, placing 13th with a time of 15:51.80. Clark placed ninth just two days earlier in the 10,000-meter run as one of three Buffs runners to place within the top 12 of the event.

It was the fifth time Clark has produced a top-16 finish at nationals, with a fifth-place finish in the 10K last year leading the way. Clark, who intends to pursue a pro career, also placed 16th in the steeplechase in 2016 and 15th in the steeplechase as a redshirt freshman in 2015.

Pat Rooney: or