How A Young Colorado DMR Upset The Collegiate Record-Holders

null
There were two certainties heading into the women's distance medley relay at last weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships. 

1. Oregon, the collegiate record-holder, was going to bring it. 
2. You wouldn't want to be anywhere near Dani Jones on the last lap of the race. 

Two weeks before NCAAs, Colorado coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs made a rare decision to run a DMR at the MPSF Championships. For the past 25 years, Wetmore chose to focus on individual performances rather than relays. The last time Colorado scored in the DMR at the NCAA championships was in 1994 when the men's team finished eighth. 

With "conservative aspirations" in mind, Wetmore and Burroughs put together a team of two freshmen and two sophomores to compete at MPSF in Seattle. Tabor Scholl, Elissa Mann, Sage Hurta, and Dani Jones completed the young squad, which unleashed a surprising victory over Stanford in an NCAA qualifying time of 10:58.68. The win came down to a come-from-behind kick issued by Jones who split 4:33 on the 1600m to beat Stanford's Elise Cranny. 



Suddenly, the conservative aspirations became All-American aspirations. 

The Buffaloes ranked seventh in an NCAA field that included the formidable Oregon Ducks, who blasted a solo collegiate record of 10:48.77 in January. The Ducks' time was seven seconds faster than No. 2-ranked Indiana. NCAAs would be just the second DMR of the season for the young Colorado squad. 

But on Friday in College Station, Texas, the gun went off and all of the past performances didn't matter. The 1200m leg was run once again by Scholl, who split 3:27 and brought the team within the middle of the chase pack. The 400m was run by Mann, who split 56 seconds before handing off to Hurta. The cross country All-American split an 800m personal best of 2:05 to put Jones 30 meters behind the leaders. Jones spent the majority of the race closing the gap, and by 400 meters to go, she had worked her way into the lead pack. With one lap remaining, Oregon's Katie Rainsberger made a surge to the front with Cranny and Jones in full pursuit. 

With 150m remaining, the race was up to Rainsberger, Cranny, and Jones. From the final homestretch, Cranny passed Rainsberger, but in the all-too-familiar kick, Jones flew out into lane three to edge her out at the line. Jones split 4:31 to bring the Colorado squad its first NCAA title in the DMR with a winning time of 11:00:34. 

"I know everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but with those two girls there are no weaknesses," Jones said after the race. "It's any given day. I just had to stay smart.

"We were hoping to be top five, so this is a big surprise!"

The team placing was a surprise to many, even Wetmore and Burroughs, but the kick from Jones was no surprise. 

"I knew as long as she's there with a lap to go, there's no stopping Dani," Mann said in the post-race interview. 

On Saturday, that statement proved true once again when Jones unleashed the same kick to beat NCAA cross country champion Karissa Schweizer in the 3K. 



Wetmore and Burroughs' decision to run a Colorado DMR this year was also perfectly timed with two alums' success in the distance. Just two months earlier at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn contributed to the team that broke the distance medley relay indoor world record. Coburn ran as the anchor leg and handed off to teen Olympian Sydney McLaughlin. McLaughlin gave the stick to world bronze medalist Brenda Martinez who then handed off to Simpson. The Olympic bronze medalist brought the team across the finish line in a record time of 10:40.31. 

With the surprise success of the Colorado squad and a world record run by two alums, it's safe to say that Wetmore and Burroughs should continue to keep the DMR as a focus for the future.

Holloway Debuts, Kenny B's Back, Another ASU Star Thrower Emerges

It’s still the early days of the outdoor season, with athletes regrouping from the indoors and slowly trickling into the spring season. This weekend’s action was light, especially compared to next weekend’s trifecta of big meets at Stanford, Florida and Texas, but there were some notable results.

Talented ADP Squad Likes World XC Medal Chances On Tough Aarhus Course

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

When Shadrack Kipchirchir lines up for the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 30 in Aarhus, Denmark, the 30-year-old American is hoping for the nastiest weather that the Danish city can provide.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Here's Why USATF Honoring World Rankings Would Be A Disaster

Earlier this week we published an opinion stating why it is a good thing for USATF to use time standards as the only means to guarantee a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team. Our main reason was based on the fact that the new world rankings are unfair, but more importantly, the world rankings make the selection process even worse.

CAS Delays Semenya Decision Until Late April

The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced on Thursday that they will push back a ruling in the case involving Caster Semenya until late April. 

House Of Run: Everything To Be Excited About In The Outdoor Season

Jason and Kevin discuss the 42 most interesting storylines heading into the outdoor season. How healthy is Wayde Van Niekerk? Who will be the top women's 1500m runner? Can the Jamaican men win a sprint medal? What will Eliud Kipchoge do for an encore? Will this be the year of the 400m hurdles?

The Best Track And Field Athlete From Every NCAA Tournament School

The 2019 NCAA DI Men’s Basketball Tournament begins this week, and in honor of March Madness we’ve selected the best track and field athlete— past or present— from each of the tournament’s 68 schools (minus Old Dominion, who does not have a track team; get a track team Old Dominion). Some of the names below are NCAA track and field legends from major programs. Others on this list never even qualified for the NCAA Championships. The 68 here ran the gamut, from Olympic heroes to mere school record holders.

Why LetsRun Is Wrong & USATF Is Right About Olympic Qualifying

Last week, the IAAF announced its new qualification process for the 2020 Olympic Games, which included tougher entry standards and new computerized world rankings. The reaction was intense as some media outlets painted an apocalyptic worldview for U.S. athletics. In reality, it’s not that dramatic.

Cal Coach Tony Sandoval To Retire

Tony Sandoval, the director of track and field and cross country at Cal, will retire at the conclusion of the outdoor season. Sandoval spent 37 years at the university, beginning as the head women’s coach in 1982. 

Six Reasons We're Looking Forward To The NCAA Outdoor Track Season

As exciting as 200-meter ovals and banked curves are, we’re ready for the unpredictable weather, sprint relays and 10K races of spring track season. Here’s a few reasons to get excited for NCAA outdoor track and field.

FloTrack To Stream 2019 Boston Marathon In Europe

AUSTIN, Texas — March 18, 2019 — Today, FloSports, the innovator in live digital sports and original content, and the Boston Athletic Association, announced a partnership to provide live and on-demand coverage of the 2019 Boston Marathon on FloTrack.com exclusively in over 40 European countries.