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Track and field: CU Buffs’ 4 x 400 men’s relay team narrowly misses cut at NCAA West Prelims

It remains to be seen if India Johnson will have company at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships next week in Austin.

If she does, it will be among her teammates from the women’s team.

The CU men’s team saw its 2023 season come to an end on Friday night, as the Buffaloes competing in four events failed to advance out of the final men’s rounds of the NCAA West Preliminaries at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento.

The shutout certainly didn’t arrive without a very close call.

Colorado’s 4 x 400 relay team of Tyler Williams, Ian Gilmore, Garrett Nelson and James Milholen fell just short of advancing to next week’s championships. In an event that advances the top 12 — the top three finishers in each heat, plus the three next best marks — CU narrowly missed the cut line, finishing 13th in 3 minutes, 5.83 seconds.

The Buffs placed fourth in the opening heat, missing the final automatic qualifying spot by 1.54 seconds (Arkansas took third at 3:04.29). It was an even closer call for the final at-large spot, as TCU edged the Buffs for the final slot with a 3:05.20.

Milholen, who advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal/prelim final in the 400 by nabbing the final at-large spot in Wednesday’s opening round, finished 23rd in 47.07 seconds. He posted a mark of 46.26 on Wednesday.

Caleb Niednagel finished 47th in the steeplechase and Charlie Sweeney placed 25th in the 5K two days after finishing 18th in the 10K.

Johnson advanced to the championships on Thursday in the women’s 10K, finishing ninth. She will find out Saturday if any teammates will join her next week in Austin.

The CU women will compete in seven events on the final day of the West Preliminaries — including Allie Routledge in the high jump, Gabrielle Orie in the steeplechase, Bailey Hertenstein in the 1,500, and Mead High graduate Abbey Glynn in the 400 hurdles. Avery McMullen will continue to work through the heptathlon, and CU also will compete in the 4 x 400 relay while sending three runners into the 5K semifinals/West Prelim finals (Kaitlyn Barthell, Ella Baran and Johnson).

NCAA West Preliminaries

Friday CU Buffs results

Men’s events

400 — 23. James Milholen 47.07.

Steeplechase — 47. Caleb Niednagel 9:24.38.

4 x 400 relay — 13. Tyler Williams, Ian Gilmore, Garrett Nelson, James Milholen, 3:05.83.

5K — 25. Charlie Sweeney 13:55.57.