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Track stars for CU Buffs set to take off at Pac-12 championships

Distance runners take center stage for Buffaloes

University of Colorado's Abbey Glynn competes at the 2021 Pac-12 Track and Field Championships in Los Angeles. (University of Colorado/Courtesy photo)
University of Colorado’s Abbey Glynn competes at the 2021 Pac-12 Track and Field Championships in Los Angeles. (University of Colorado/Courtesy photo)

The final lap of the outdoor track and field season always consists of a demanding month-long push. And that stretch run begins this weekend for the Colorado Buffaloes.

On Friday, the Pac-12 Conference championships begin at the University of Oregon, and once again it will be the Buffs’ distance runners taking center stage. Although they certainly will not be the only ones in the spotlight as CU dives into its final competition before the NCAA West Regional begins on May 25.

As usual, the Pac-12 finals will offer a glimpse of the competition ahead on the national stage, with seven top 25 women’s teams and six ranked men’s teams vying for league titles at historic Hayward Field.

“I definitely think with this meet, this is going to be the competition we’ll be competing against for the next couple weeks,” said hurlder and Mead High alum Abbey Glynn “It’s good to start off with them and work our way up.”

For the CU men’s team, senior Eduardo Herrera will take aim at a pair of conference championships in the 1,500 and the 5,000 in his final Pac-12 competition. It is on the women’s side, however, where the Buffs expect to make the biggest splash.

Senior Abby Nichols is the top-ranked athlete in the 5K, and she is expected to also run the 10,000 for the first time this outdoor season. The only current Buffs athlete with a Pac-12 title to their credit is Madie Boreman, who won the steeplechase in 2017. Boreman finished fourth in the steeplechase at the Pac-12 meet last year and goes into this year’s meet ranked third in the conference in the event, as well as fifth in the 1,500.

That 1,500 will feature a slew of CU athletes among the league’s top 10, including Micaela DeGenero (seventh) and Rachel McArthur (eighth). Nichols is ranked sixth in the 1,500 but is expected to focus on the 5K and 10K.

DeGenero, the reigning NCAA indoor champion in the one-mile run, also is ranked third in the 800. In typical form, the CU women will feature impressive depth in the distance events, with Emily Covert ranked fourth in the 5K and India Johnson ranked eighth in the 5K. Covert and Johnson also are tied for second in the 10K, having posted an identical time of 33 minutes, 50.67 seconds at the Stanford Invitational last month.

Beyond the distance events, CU’s best chances for strong finishes will come from Glynn, ranked third in the 400 hurdles, and Avery McMullen, who is ranked second in the long jump and third in the heptathlon.

“The Pac-12 competition this year is going to be harder than it’s ever been, so it’s going to be fun going against all the other multis (multi-sport athletes),” said McMullen, who has been trying to shake a minor ankle injury in recent weeks. “Really, I’m just focusing on nationals for the hep, because I’m ranked 10th (nationally) right now. So I’m just kind of just really focusing on that and taking conference as a ‘get ready’ sort of thing.”

Pac-12 Conference Track and Field Championships

WHEN: Friday-Sunday, Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore. (Competition begins Friday at 2 p.m. MT)

BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Networks (Coverage begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. MT.

CU Buffs to watch: Men — Eduardo Herrera (1,500, 5,000); Stephen Jones (steeplechase). Women — Madie Boreman (1,500, steeplechase); Emily Covert (5,000, 10,000: Micaela DeGenero (800, 1,500); Abbey Glynn (400 hurdles); India Johnson (5,000, 10,000); Rachel McArthur (1,500); Avery McMullen (long jump, heptathlon); Abby Nichols (5,000, 10,000).

NOTES: The conference meet will be a who’s who of top contenders at the NCAA West Regional features seven of the top 25 women’s teams in the latest USTFCCCA weekly poll — Oregon (9), Washington (15), Arizona State (16), Stanford (18), USC (21), Cal (24) and CU (25). The men’s side features six ranked teams in Oregon (7), USC (8), Stanford (11), Washington (19), Arizona State (22) and Cal (25)…Races to watch for CU fans on Friday will be the preliminary heats of the 1,500, plus the men’s and women’s 10,000 finals.