Emma Coburn cruises into steeplechase final at USATF outdoor championships

Former CU Buffs star taking aim at sixth straight national title

Ryan Gooding / For the Daily Camera
Emma Coburn, seen here in 2015, cruised through the preliminary heats of the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Friday at the USA Track and Field outdoor championships.
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Emma Coburn put herself in position to keep her steeplechase streak alive at the USA Track and Field outdoor championships. And it should be a memorable finale on Sunday.

The former University of Colorado star cruised through the preliminary heats of the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Friday, earning one of the automatic spots in the championship round by winning the second heat, finishing in 9 minutes, 51.43 seconds. The reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the women’s steeplechase, Coburn should still have plenty left in the tank on Sunday, as she ran a 9:04.90, the second-best effort of her decorated career, last month at the Prefontaine Classic.

Coburn will seek her sixth consecutive USA championship and eighth overall on Sunday in a star-studded steeplechase finale. The race also will feature Courtney Frerichs, who topped Coburn’s former American record by posting a 9:00.25 last summer, as well as Colleen Quigley.

Two other former Buffs competed Friday, with Andrew Ghizzone finishing 13th in the decathlon. It was a tough day for Niwot native Nick Harris, who was last among the 27 finishers in the preliminaries of the 1,500-meter run.

It will be a short but substantive day for the former Buffs on Day 3 of the USAT outdoor championships on Saturday, with 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and current CU volunteer assistant Jenny Simpson racing in the final of the 1,500 at 2:42 p.m. MT. Simpson won four consecutive U.S. titles in the event before finishing second last year.