CU well-represented at Olympic Trials

Former Colorado Buffalo Alan Culpepper has already qualified for the 2004 Olympic Games in the marathon. In the coming days, 10 more former CU track athletes, and one current Buff, Dathan Ritzenhein, will be competing in the Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif., hoping to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

"CU, and its extended family, has way more people competing than a lot of Division I schools," said CU head track and field coach Mark Wetmore. "There are schools that will have more than we have, but I doubt there are many that have as many serious contenders. We may have six or seven selected to the team …I'm not sure how many programs have that many."

The Olympic Trials take place July 9-18 at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.

The current Colorado Buffalo competing for a spot on the Olympic team at the Trials is Dathan Ritzenhein, who will compete in the 10,000-meters. Ritzenhein won the 2003 NCAA Cross Country title on limited training after recovering from a leg injury suffered over the summer. But Ritzenhein has his eyes set on an Olympic berth.

"The NCAA cross country (championship race) is every year, and everybody wins it," Ritzenhein recently told the Buffalo Sports News. "I want to win it twice and make an Olympic team numerous times."

Unfortunately, Ritzenhein has had to scale back his training again this summer, as he's suffered a stress fracture in his foot. Along with Ritzenhein, here is a list of former Buffaloes competing for spots on the U.S. Olympic team in the coming days.

Alan Culpepper – 10,000 meters. Culpepper, who recently helped the U.S. men's team to its first-ever win in the Bolder Boulder, has already made the U.S. Olympic team by winning the U.S. Marathon Trials in February.

Shayne Culpepper — 1,500-meters, 5,000-m. Needs to beat at least one other A standard runner in the field to have a shot. Also competed in 2000 Olympics.

James Davis — 400-meter. His 2004 best time (45.63) ranks 22nd this year, but the sprinter is peaking at the right moment.

Adam Goucher — 1,500-meters, 5,000-m. Injuries have marred Goucher's stellar post-CU career, but his toughness makes him a threat in any one-off race. He ran in 2000 Olympics.

Kara (Grgas-Wheeler) Goucher — 1,500-meters, 5,000-m. 2000 NCAA Cross Country Champ.

Casey Malone — discus. CU assistant coach is a Colorado native and was 1998 NCAA discus champ at CSU.

Carrie Messner — 1,500-meters. Won Mt. SAC steeplechase in April.

Dathan Ritzenhein — 10,000-meters. Only current CU athlete competing for Olympic berth, and one of just five U.S. runners who have turned in a sub-28-minute 10k this year.

Karol (Damon) Rovelto — high jump. 1992 CU grad has a personal record of 1.97m/6-5.5 (2003) and made 2000 Olympic team.

Steve Slattery — steeplechase. Enters the Trials with second-fastest qualifying time (8:22.32).

Heather Sterlin — heptathlon. Former two-time CU all-American won the heptathlon in March at the College Station Relays, and is a volunteer assistant coach for the Buffs.

Jorge Torres — 5,000-meters. Three-time Big 12 Cross Country champ slowly adjusting to international competition.

Slattery, Shayne Culpepper, Rovelto and Malone may have the best shots at joining Alan Culpepper on the U.S. Olympic squad.

"But if anyone will rise up on race day it will be Adam and Dathan," added Wetmore of his former and current pupils.

Ritzenhein is just one of five runners in the nation with a sub-28-minute "A" standard time, and will have his chances for Athens improve if at some point between now and July 18 Meb Keflezighi and Dan Browne, who both qualified for the Olympics in the marathon, declare their intentions for Athens for the longer race instead of the 10k. Should that scenario play out, or both not even compete in the 10k race (though unlikely), then Ritzenhein would make the team in the 10k before stepping on to the track July 9, an advantageous situation as he has been cross training through a stress fracture in his left foot since a positive magnetic resonance imaging (MR) on June 23rd.

USA Track and Field has until July 18 to name four athletes in each event as Olympic contenders, and submit their final team rosters (a maximum of three in each discipline) to the United States Olympic Committee by August 9, with those athletes competing in Athens in the 20024 Games August 13-29.

Despite how the Trials play out, CU will have at least Culpepper and three staff members in Athens. Current assistant athletic trainer Wendy Veatch will serve as a staff trainer for USA Swimming (staffing swimming, diving and synchronized swimming), former CU sports information director Tim Simmons will be working for USA Volleyball as will graduate and one-time ski administrative assistant Tammy Bartlett, as a message therapist.

Fourteen hours of the Olympic Trials will be broadcast on NBC and the USA Network. For more information on USA Track and Field, go to www.usatf.org.


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