As expected, former University of Colorado All-American and reigning Olympic medalist Jenny Simpson advanced to the finals of the 1,500-meter run during the opening day of the USA Track and Field outdoor championships Friday in Des Moines.
Dani Jones, fresh off a pair of national championships for the Buffaloes during the 2018-19 school year, still is hoping to ascend toward Simpson’s status at the national level among the professional ranks. Despite outperforming one of her mentors on Wednesday by a wide margin, Jones will have to make her mark another day.
While Simpson cruised to a second-place finish in what proved to be a somewhat deliberately-paced second preliminary heat, finishing in 4 minutes, 20.12 seconds, Jones’ final mark of 4:12.00 and 10th overall finish wasn’t enough to advance to Saturday’s final. In a format in which the top three finishers in each heat advanced alongside the next three overall times, Jones missed nabbing the final at-large spot by just .56 seconds.
Jones won the NCAA cross country national championship last fall and added an outdoor title in the 5,000 in June. While her collegiate cross country career has ended, Jones still has one more year of eligibility at CU in track.
Simpson, a volunteer assistant with the Buffs who became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in the 1,500 when she finished third in 2016, will race for the championship on Saturday at 2:42 p.m. MT. Simpson earned an automatic bid to the final after placing second in her heat behind former Niwot star and former Stanford runner Elise Cranny (4:19.99). Simpson previously won the US outdoor championship in the 1,500 from 2014 through 2017 before finishing second last year. She also will compete in the women’s 5,000 meter final Sunday.
Two former Buffs competed in the finals 10,000 meter run, with Connor Winter using a strong late push in the men’s race to turn in an impressive sixth-place finish with a personal-best time of 28:21.81. Erin Clark finished 10th in the women’s race with a mark of 33:16.16.
Three former Buffs will compete on Friday, including reigning women’s steeplechase Olympic bronze medalist Emma Coburn when the preliminary heat of that event starts at 3:57 p.m. MT. Former CU runner Nick Harris, also a Niwot alum, competes in the preliminary heat of the men’s 1,500-meter run at 3:30 p.m. before Andrew Ghizzone competes in the decathlon at 5:46 p.m.