Women's track beats the heat

By Christi-Marie Butler published May 9, 2004

The CU-Colorado Springs Men's and Women's Track teams are accustomed to racing in tough conditions, but the RMAC Championships took it to a new level.

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference was held in Fort Hays, Kansas May 7th -9th, and these were two of the hottest days Kansas had seen for some time.

With temperatures ranging from 95 to 110 degrees on the Fort Hays track, seven Mountain Lion women brought everything they had to the starting line. Beginning on Friday, sophomore Ashley Birger, junior Chelsey Cerrillo, junior Tina Gray and sophomore Sarah Shepard took on the 3000-meter steeplechase.

"It was too hot to worry about times," coach Graeme Badger said. "I just wanted them to race the other runners."

While Gray ran her season-best time of 11 minutes, 13 seconds and Cerrillo ran her lifetime personal record of 12:11, the girls also heeded their coach's advice. Gray, who came in second overall, Birger and Shepard made All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, which requires a top six finish.

Saturday added 20-30 mile per hour wind to the hundred degree plus temperature as the steeplechase women picked up the pace for the 1500-meter race. Once again, Gray led her team with another personal best time of 4:46.32 followed by Birger with a 36 second personal record of 4:54.69. Shepard kicked it in at 5:00.53 and Cerrillo again topped her previous best time with a 5:22.10 finish.

"I coached at a meet in Houston once, but these are the most severe conditions any of my runners have raced in." said Badger. "I don't know where all these personal records are coming from. I can only imagine what they would be doing if it were 50 degrees."

Tiffany Flint, the women's sprinter, did her part for the team in the 200 and the 400
meter races. Her time of 26.21 in the 200 was fast enough for another personal record. While 1:00.23 in the 400 was far from her best showing, Flint nevertheless took third in the 400-meter finals, earning the All-Conference Award.

Rounding off a weekend of strong performances was team captain, Kelly Smith, who was running the 5000-meter race as the thermometer inched up past 106 degrees.

"The race started out too fast and I just let them go," Smith, who is known for intelligent racing, explained. "I knew they would slow down and I picked them off one by one."

Finishing third overall with an 18:10.01, Smith claimed another All-Conference title for her who team, which collected 10 by the end of the meet. Smith, voted most valuable athlete for her outstanding 2003 Cross-Country season, has also qualified for nationals in the 10000-meter race, where she will be representing her school on May 28th-29 in Mt. Sac, Calif.

Also provisionally qualifying for nationals in the steeplechase are Gray, this track season's most valuable athlete, Birger and Shepard. Gray and Shepard look to the Last Chance Meet in Kansas on May 15th and 16th to better their times in order to qualify for outdoor track nationals.

This time, the races will be held in the evening, giving the runners a better opportunity to run their fastest races.

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
Sarah ShepardSarah ShepardDistanceFr.
Sarah ShepardSarah ShepardDistanceFr.
Sarah ShepardSarah ShepardFr.
Sarah ShepardSarah ShepardDistanceFr.
Sarah ShepardSarah ShepardFr.
Sarah ShepardSarah ShepardFr.
Sarah ShepardSarah ShepardFr.
Kelly SmithKelly SmithDistanceSr.
Kelly SmithKelly SmithSr.
Tina GrayTina GrayJr.
Tina GrayTina GrayJr.
Tina GrayTina GraySteeplechase
Tina GrayTina GraySteeplechase
Additional News Stories
June 4, 2004Birger named Academic All-AmericanCross country/track athlete Ashley Birger was named second team academic All-American, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs announced Friday.
June 2, 2004Gray named All-American for second straight yearTina Gray was named All-American for the second consecutive year, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs announced Wednesday.
May 27, 2004Gray advances to finals at national championshipsTina Gray qualified for the finals in the women's 3000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday by finishing ninth in the preliminaries.
April 24, 2004Final tuneup successful for women's trackSaturday, April 24, Colorado State University hosted the Jack Christiansen Invitational where the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs women's track team competed in their last outdoor meet of the regular season.
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