Five Lions qualify for nationals

By Doug Fitzgerald published May 18, 2004

Three Colorado Springs natives were among the school-record five athletes that earned the right to represent the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs at the NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held from May 27-29 at Walnut, Calif.

Five Mountain Lions will compete in six events at nationals, the NCAA announced Tuesday. Colorado Springs natives Ashley Birger (Air Academy High School) and Tina Gray (Sand Creek HS) will compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Wasson HS grad Levi Brathall will run both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

They will be joined by another Coloradoan, Kelly Smith. The senior from Eagle will run the women's 10,000. Rounding out the qualifiers will be Kenyan Moses Tum, who will run both the 800 and the 1,500 meters.

"That's the most athletes we've ever had go to nationals," said coach Graeme Badger. "We've had three a couple of times, but never five. This is really a positive step for the program."

For Brathall and Tum, competing in two events will be particularly challenging.

"For Moses, the trick is if he qualifies for the finals in both, he'll only have a little over an hour between events," said Badger, pointing out that Tum will have to battle lactate buildup that will make his leg muscles very tight. "He handled it really well at (the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships)."

Brathall's challenge will be handling the inevitable beating he'll take from racing the two longest distances that track offers.

"For Levi, on Thursday he'll run the finals of the 10,000. On Friday, he'll run the prelims of the 5,000 and on Saturday he'll run the finals of the 5,000," said Badger. "That's three consecutives days of long, high intensity racing. It takes a pounding on your body in an anaerobic way."

The Colorado contingent will benefit from racing near sea level and on a familiar track. CU-Colorado Springs competed at Mt. Sac Relays, run at Hilmer-Lodge Stadium in Walnut, Calif., on April 16-18.

"All of these athletes are from altitude originally," said Badger. "The longer the race, the more of an advantage it is. Your body produces more blood volume, which means more red blood cells. You're also training in a harsher environment, so your workouts more intense."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Moses TumMoses TumDistance
Moses TumMoses Tum
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Levi BrathallLevi Brathall
Levi BrathallLevi Brathall
Levi BrathallLevi BrathallDistance
Levi BrathallLevi BrathallDistance
Kelly SmithKelly SmithDistanceSr.
Kelly SmithKelly SmithSr.
Tina GrayTina GrayJr.
Tina GrayTina GrayJr.
Tina GrayTina GraySteeplechase
Tina GrayTina GraySteeplechase
Additional News Stories
June 2, 2004Tum named All-American in two eventsMoses Tum accomplished one University of Colorado at Colorado Springs first when he qualified for the finals in two events at the NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He managed another first on Wednesday by being named All-American in both.
May 28, 2004Tum earns chance to attempt unprecedented doubleMoses Tum will attempt a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs first after all.
May 27, 2004Tum takes second in prelims, advances to finalsMoses Tum just keeps on getting better and better.
May 9, 2004Men's track fries as RMAC championshipsThe University of Colorado at Colorado Springs men's track team is going from the frying pan into the fire - almost literally.
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