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CU track’s Dani Jones completes memorable year with NCAA title 5,000 meters

Gabby Scott, Val Constien also finish strong

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In a year that saw the Colorado track and field team send 13 athletes to the NCAA outdoor championships, tying the program’s mark for its second-most entrants ever, the Buffaloes saved their best for last.

Dani Jones completed a school year that certainly will go down in CU track and cross country lore on Saturday, winning the national championship in the women’s 5,000 meter run during the final day of the championships in Austin, Texas. It was just one of four top-six finishes for the Buffs on Saturday, as Gabby Scott took second in the 400 hurdles and Val Constien placed sixth in the 3,000 steeplechase.

Jones, the NCAA cross country championship last fall, finished in 15 minutes, 50.65 seconds to edge runner-up Taylor Werner of Arkansas (15:51.24). Junior teammate Makena Morley, who placed 11th in the 10,000 just two days earlier, finished sixth in 16:02.89.

Scott turned in a nearly equally impressive finish in the 400, placing second while breaking her own school record by finishing in 56.04 seconds. The first CU athlete to compete at nationals in the 400 hurdles in 23 years, Scott was just fractions behind national champ Anna Cockrell from USC (55.23) as the pair posted the top two times in the event in the nation this season.

Constien posted her second consecutive top-six finish in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, finishing sixth in 9:51.22. It was slightly off her pace of 9:48.40 she posted at last year’s championships when she finished fifth, though the conditions in Texas were much hotter and far more demanding than last year’s meet in Eugene, Oregon.

In the women’s heptathlon, CU’s Michaela Wenning finished 22nd with 5,2774 points while Maja Wichhart-Donzo placed 24th (4,554).