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CSU distance team shines in California

While the Colorado weather soured the weekend for the majority of Colorado State’s track and field team the CSU distance team tasted success.

The rain, cold and Saturday’s forecast pushed the Tom Benich Invitational in Greeley from Saturday to Sunday, where most of the Rams competed.

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However, some members of the CSU distance team found themselves in different territory as runners competed at the Stanford Invitational and San Francisco State Distance Carnival this weekend.

Friday’s competition saw numerous school records fall at the hands of the dominant CSU distance quartet of Jefferson Abbey, Jerrell Mock, Grant Fischer and Cole Rockhold.

“You don’t get that many chances each year to run at these big meets at sea level against the best competition,” CSU distance coach Art Siemers said. “They know they have limited opportunities and they take advantage of them. It’s fun to see when you watch a whole team – everyone – running to the best of their ability.”

Abbey, a senior and the only member of the group who did not run at the NCAA indoor nationals in March, won the 5,000-meters at Stanford with a time of 13 minutes, 37.23 seconds. Abbey broke a 17-year-old school record in the 5,000 and, through Saturday, Abbey’s time stands as the number one time in the event in the nation.

In the second 5,000 heat Rockhold, a sophomore and a first team indoor All-American, finished second with a time of 13:52.73. Rockhold’s time is the third-best in the event in school history.

The CSU success did not stop with the 5,000 as juniors Jerrell Mock and Grant Fischer carved their names into the CSU record book in the 10,000-meters on Friday. Mock, a second team indoor All-American, finished third in the 10,000 at Stanford with a time of 28:11.80. Then Fischer, also a second team indoor All-American, finished just behind Mock in sixth place at 28:45.83.

With their times both runners broke the CSU record set by Ed Cordova all the way back on April 25, 1987. Through Saturday Mock’s time sits as the third-best in the country and first in the NCAA Western region. Fischer is ranked ninth in the nation and third in the west.

“Jeff (Abbey) is the NCAA leader right now and both Jerrell (Mock) and Grant (Fischer) not only broke the school record, but ran big times,” Siemers said. “It was Jerrell’s first 10,000 ever and right now he has the third-best time in the country — 51 seconds better than the school record. Grant ran virtually what he could run a 5,000 in last year back-to-back, so he’s making huge improvements. I thought Cole (Rockhold) ran really well coming back from nationals.”

The Rams kicked off competition at Stanford on Friday in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase where senior Laura Yallow finished second in her heat with a time of 10:19.45. That time was good enough for a personal-best for Yarrow and ranks fourth all-time in school history.

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Junior Mckenna Spillar highlighted CSU action at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival on Friday. Spillar won the women’s 10,000 by over 14 seconds with a time of 34:58.22. Spillar’s time was a personal best and places her tenth in CSU history in the event.

“(Spillar’s) race today was phenomenal,” Siemers said. “She improved her time by almost a minute from last year and ran with such poise this morning. She didn’t know she was coming to the race until Wednesday. She was really excited to come here and won the race going away. She could’ve easily been freaked out since she didn’t know she was coming, but she showed maturity and that shows what lies ahead in her future.”

Also at the Distance Carnival Tait Rutherford ran a time of 29.25.70 in the men’s 10,000. Rutherford’s time ranks 18th in the NCAA Western Region and should be good enough to send the senior to regional competition in late May.

Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com and on twitter @Eric_wolf5

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