May 24—Madie Boreman already had put her name alongside some of Colorado's all-time track athletes in the same event that made her predecessors famous.
Still, the triumph that put Boreman in that class was, by the standards of a typical track career, an eternity ago. Two weekends ago, Boreman returned to a spot she had not visited since her true freshman season by winning the women's steeplechase title at the Pac-12 Conference championships.
Boreman is one of 29 athletes the Buffaloes are sending to the NCAA West Preliminaries, which begin on Wednesday in Fayetteville, Ark. After a long journey back to the top of the podium at the conference meet, Boreman looks to continue that momentum in her final round of nationals with the Buffs.
"I feel like my freshman year it was fun. But this year I think I knew the weight of a Pac-12 title more," Boreman said. "I had a better idea of how much more important is was, especially this year where we were trying to do really well as a team, and we ended up with our best team finish ever (in the Pac-12).
"It was definitely more special. I don't know if that's because of the time that went by or knowing better what it meant."
A year ago, Boreman believed her immediate future might involve law school. After claiming that conference crown as a freshman, Boreman dealt with health issues for a few seasons, then watched as the 2020 outdoor season was canceled entirely at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her runner-up finish at nationals as a freshman was growing more distant. Before returning to nationals last year, when she finished 15th, Boreman wondered if it was time to find a new trade.
"Last year, my plan honestly was to go to law school and move on from running," Boreman said. "But I had a really good outdoor season and was getting my groove again. It felt wrong to kind of quit at that. After last outdoor season I thought I should come back another year. Everybody wants to win a title, so I think it would be silly of me to not say that's in the back of my head. But I just want to squeeze everything I have to give in the NCAAs. I really want to have another podium finish at nationals and hopefully contend for a title."
Boreman's second career Pac-12 Conference title put her in elite company. The list of two-time conference champs for CU in the women's steeplechase includes such luminaries as Emma Coburn (who won three), Jenny Simpson, Shalaya Kipp, and Erin Clark. Boreman's first conference crown in 2017 was the ninth consecutive women's steeplechase conference championship won by CU runners.
Simpson, Coburn and Kipp, all future Olympians, won NCAA championships in the steeplechase. Boreman hopes to join that club, too.
"Compared to last year, I'm a little bit more confident," said Boreman, who competes on Saturday. "I was running 9:48, 9:49, over and over again. Now that I've kind of broken that, I feel a bit more confident to keep breaking that. I probably feel more mature than some of the others might feel. Having been there twice now, I definitely have a good idea how to handle my nerves and everything that comes with being there."
NCAA WEST PRELIMINARIES
WHEN: Wednesday through Saturday, Fayetteville, Ark.
BROADCAST: TV — SEC Network (Also available through ESPN+).
CU BUFFS SCHEDULE (All times MT): WEDNESDAY — Men's hammer throw, 9 a.m. (Dominique Williams); Men's 1,500 semifinal (Noah Hibbard), 5:30 p.m.; Men's 400 semifinal, 6:25 p.m. (Tyler Williams); Men's 400 hurdles semifinal, 7:20 p.m. (Aaron McCoy, Garrett Nelson); Men's 10K final (Andrew Kent, Paxton Smith, Charlie Sweeney, Austin Vancil). THURSDAY — Women's 100 hurdle semifinal, 5 p.m. (Avery McMullen); Women's long jump, 5 p.m. (Avery McMullen); Women's 1,500 semifinal, 5:30 p.m. (Micaela DeGenero, Rachel McArthur); Women's 400 hurdle semifinal, 7:20 p.m. (Abbey Glynn, Emma Pollak); Women's 10K final, 8:10 p.m. (Kaitlyn Barthell, Emily Covert, India Johnson, Hannah Miniutti). FRIDAY — Men's high jump, 1:30 p.m. (Noah Bouchard); Men's 1,500 final, 4:15 p.m. (Noah Hibbard); Men's 400 final, 5:50 p.m. (Tyler Williams); Men's 400 hurdle final, 6:25 p.m. (Aaron McCoy, Garrett Nelson); Men's 5K final, 7:10 p.m. (Eduardo Herrera, Andrew Kent, Charlie Sweeney); Men's 4×400 relay final, 7:45 p.m. (Aaron McCoy, Garrett Nelson, Ian Gilmore, Tyler Williams, Kellen Monestime). SATURDAY — Women's high jump, 1:30 p.m. (Kylee Harr, Allie Routledge); Women's 1,500 final, 4:15 p.m. (Micaela DeGenero, Rachel McArthur); Women's steeplechase final, 4:40 p.m. (Madie Boreman, Gabrielle Orie); Women's 100 hurdle final, 5:15 (Avery McMullen); Women's 400 hurdle final, 6:25 p.m. (Abbey Glynn, Emma Pollak); Women's 5K final, 7:10 p.m. (Emily Covert, India Johnson, Abby Nichols); Women's 4×400 relay final, 7:45 p.m. (Abbey Glynn, Emma Pollak, Jaida Drame, Grace Jenkins).