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Fourteen former, current CU Buffs athletes taking off at U.S. Track Olympic Trials

Emma Coburn, Jenny Simpson begin defense of 2016 medals

Olympic bronze medalists Jenny Simpson (left) and Emma Coburn will return to their alma mater Saturday as the Buffaloes' guests of honor at the Rocky Mountain Shootout and the football game against Oregon State.
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Olympic bronze medalists Jenny Simpson (left) and Emma Coburn will return to their alma mater Saturday as the Buffaloes’ guests of honor at the Rocky Mountain Shootout and the football game against Oregon State.

It has been five years since Emma Coburn and Jenny Simpson made Buff Nation proud with their historic performances at the Rio Olympics.

If the former Colorado All-Americans want to do it again, they will have to hold their ground at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials.

Once again Coburn and Simpson are ranked among the elite in their respective events, and they will lead a group of 14 current and former Buffs athletes set to compete at the Trials, which begin Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Coburn (3,000) and Simpson (1,500) became the first American women to win medals in their respective events at the Rio Olympics in 2016, with both former Buffs winning bronze.

Coburn is the top-ranked athlete in the steeplechase (9:02.35), and her first-round race goes off on Sunday night. Simpson is ranked second in the 1,500 (3:58.42) and eighth in the 5,000-meter run. Simpson will attempt to pull off a demanding double-feature on Friday, as she attempts to advance out of the first round of the 1,500 at 5:03 MT before making a bid for an Olympic spot in the 5,000 at 6:54 p.m. Simpson will be joined in the 5,000 by former Buffs Carrie Verdon and Maddie Alm.

In the 1,500, the top six finishers in each heat, plus the next top six times, advance to the 1,500 semifinals on Saturday.

Four current Buffaloes will represent coach Mark Wetmore’s program in black and gold at the Trials — Sage Hurta (women’s 800), Eduardo Herrera (men’s 1,500), Madie Boreman (women’s steeplechase), and Micaela Degenero (women’s 1,500). Hurta is coming off a runner-up finish last week in the 1,500 at the NCAA outdoor championships, which also was held at Hayward Field. Degenero finished sixth.

Seven former CU runners boast top-10 marks going into the Trials. In addition to Coburn and Simpson, former CU athlete Val Constien is ranked fourth in the steeplechase, Dani Jones is ranked 10th in the 1,500, and distance specialist Joe Klecker ranks seventh in the 5,000 and 10,000.

Klecker runs in the 10,000 meter final on Friday night (8:25 MT) and needs to finish in the top three (out of 25) to earn an Olympic berth. Friday’s CU-related events will air live on NBC Sports Network.