John Dressel only has a few more races left in the tank with the Colorado Buffaloes. The decorated senior distance specialist is intent on making the most of his final runs.
Dressel took the spotlight for the Buffs during the opening day of the NCAA West Preliminaries Wednesday in College Station, Texas, finishing seventh in the semifinal of the 10,000-meter run to advance to the national championship in two weeks in Eugene, Ore. Dressel finished in 29 minutes, 12.07 seconds to advance to the championship round in the 10,000 for the second time.
CU junior Aaron McCoy also advanced out of the preliminary heat of the 400-meter hurdles. Although McCoy’s time of 51.355 was last amongst the qualifiers for Friday’s quarterfinals, he advanced by finishing third in his heat. McCoy finished 27th overall.
Dressel, who first competed at the outdoor track NCAA Preliminaries as a freshman in 2016, told BuffZone earlier this week that experience has helped shape his approach for his final postseason at CU.
“When you’re starting out it’s hard not to go into a meet like this feeling this pressure, or meeting your own expectations to qualify against the best runners in the West Region,” Dressel said. “Historically, the West Region is always way more competitive than the East in terms of the depth. Which makes it harder to qualify.
“A lot of times athletes will hit a time to get into regionals, but then anything can happen at regionals. Learning from my experience, what athletes have accomplished leading up to the meet really doesn’t matter too much. Especially where the meet is located in College Station. It’s humid. You just don’t know how people are going to fare with those conditions, especially with the longer events. Running at NCAA nationals in Austin, Texas two years ago definitely helps to prepare for what to expect this week.”
Dressel finished 10th in the 10,000 in the NCAA finals in 2019 and placed eighth in the 5,000 in 2017. He will compete in the 5,000-meter semifinal on Friday alongside teammates Eduardo Herrera and Alec Hornecker.
The Buffs had two other athletes compete on Wednesday who did not advance, with Dominique Williams finishing 43rd in the hammer throw and Ronald Sayles placing 27th in the 400.
Day two of the meet on Thursday will feature the start of the women’s events. CU will have four athletes, including Sage Hurta, competing in the 1,500 preliminaries, in addition to four in the semifinal of the 10,000. The Buffs also will have two athletes looking to advance in the 400 meter hurdles in Eriana Henderson and Mead High alum Abbey Glynn.