CU women capture three titles at Pac-12 track championships

The 2019 Pac-12 Championships concluded Sunday evening in Tucson with the University of Colorado women’s track and field program placing third overall with 92 points while the men placed ninth with 48 points.

The women’s finish is tied for the highest in school history in the Pac-12 and came from taking three titles in less than a 24-hour period. Val Constien won the 11th-consecutive women’s conference steeplechase title late last night, then Elissa Mann added a women’s 800-meter run title and Dani Jones took home the crown in the women’s 5,000-meter run.

Mann was the first title winner in the second day of competition after running 2:04.35, edging Oregon’s Susan Ejore at the line by four-tenths of a second. Mann put down the fastest second lap of the event in 64 seconds after hitting the bell lap in around fourth. She is now just the second-ever CU woman to win a conference title in the outdoor 800, joining Leigh Ballenger who won a pair of titles in 1978 and 1980.

The final championship came in the women’s 5,000 with Dani Jones making her season debut in the event. Jones won this event in 2017 before redshirting in 2018. She took the race in 15:54.86, defeating Stanford’s Fiona O’Keefe by three-tenths of a second. Jones joins Sara (Gorton) Slattery as the only CU women to win multiple outdoor 5,000 titles.

The 5,000 was a huge event for the women as they picked up 18 points after Makena Morley placed third and Constien placed seventh. Morley crossed the line in 15:58.82 while Constien ran 16:09.11.

Another large point performance came in the women’s 400 hurdles when Gabby Scott dropped her own school record to 56.82 for second. USC’s Anna Cockrell took the title in 56.46, but CU stole the show with three women in the top-eight for 13 points. All three women ran personal bests as Eriana Henderson ran 58.82 for sixth and Valerie Welch ran 59.13 for seventh. Henderson improves her fourth-best mark in school history while Welch jumps all the way to fifth in school history.

The CU women also picked up points in the 4×400-meter relay which was fourth in 3:34.82 and the 4×100 that was sixth in 45.92 seconds. Numerous individuals also picked up points with Elisa Grandemange in the hammer (8th, 57.41m), Annie Hill in the 1,500 (8th, 4:23.02) and Maja Wichhart-Donzo in the triple jump (8th, 12.09m).

On the men’s side, the 5,000 was the highest scoring event of the day with nine team points earned. John Dressel edged teammate Ryan Forsyth at the line as the two finished fourth and fifth in times of 13:51.10 and 13:51.64.

Another CU duo put up good points in the men’s 1,500 in Eduardo Herrera and Gabe Fendel. Herrera finished fifth in the event at 3:50.75 while Fendel was seventh at 3:51.34.

The only other scorer from the evening was Jon Maas in the 400 finals. Maas, fresh off of taking nearly a second off his personal best the day before, ran 46.49 for fourth overall. He also helped out on the men’s 4×100 that ran 42.06 for sixth and the men’s 4×400 that ran 3:11.67 for eighth.

Colorado will next compete in two weeks in Sacramento at the 2019 NCAA Championships West Preliminaries. As the results stand right now there are 18 marks on the women’s side ranked in the top-45 in the West and 13 for the men. Also for Colorado, as the results stand both Michaela Wenning and Wichhart-Donzo are ranked in the top-24 in the nation in the heptathlon and qualify for the NCAA National Championships.