Gray shines amid officials' confusion

By Doug Fitzgerald published January 24, 2004

There was considerable confusion after the women's 5,000 meters at the Air Force Open Saturday. That Colorado State's Colleen Blair had won was beyond dispute. What was a problem, though, was the lap count for the rest of the field.

Blair lapped nearly the entire field, a few of them twice, and the second group of runners lapped the stragglers, making the post-race scene chaotic. CU-Colorado Springs' Tina Gray had finished second, but after some deliberation, race officials said she had completed one lap too few.

"I knew (Blair) hadn't lapped me," said Gray. "So there was no way I hadn't run enough laps."

CU-Colorado Springs coaches Graeme and Sandy Badger had kept meticulous track of the race and had recorded every split. They conferred with the officials and Gray's second-place finish was restored. But to get that second place4, Gray would have to run an epic final lap. She trailed Colorado State's Val McGregor by nearly a half a lap with just a few laps to go. Gray steadfastly whittled away at that lead until McGregor was in range.

"Somebody in the stands said I was only eight seconds behind her," said Gray, prior to having her finish restored. "When I caught her I thought I got second. Just because she's from (Division I) CSU doesn't mean I can't possibly beat her."

Gray's disappointment turned to satisfaction after her lap count was confirmed. After missing the entire 2003 indoor season, just being back on the track is exciting.

"I'm way ahead of where I wanted to be," said Gray, who earned All-American accolades last year in outdoor track while running the 3,000-meter steeplechase. "Last year at this time I wasn't even running,"

Sarah Shepard also competed in the 5,000, beating several Division I runners en route to a fourth-place finish.

The Mountain Lions also fared well in the non-seeded 3,000 meters on Friday, where Kelly Smith shook off the offseason rust to finish third, and first among non-Division I runners. Ashley Birger took eighth, while Chelsey Cerrillo, Sheena Henderson and Brandy Smith all got a chance to compete.

Tiffany Flint also ran on Friday, finishing 27th in the 400-meter dash.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Tiffany FlintTiffany FlintSprints
Sheena HendersonSheena HendersonDistanceSo.
Sheena HendersonSheena HendersonSo.
Sheena HendersonSheena HendersonSo.
Kelly SmithKelly SmithDistanceSr.
Kelly SmithKelly SmithSr.
Brandy SmithBrandy SmithDistance
Brandy SmithBrandy Smith
Tina GrayTina GrayJr.
Tina GrayTina GrayJr.
Tina GrayTina GraySteeplechase
Tina GrayTina GraySteeplechase
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