NEW ORLEANS – In four races separated by just 15 days, Colorado track and field star Dani Jones sent shockwaves throughout the nation that resulted in her being named the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Women's Track Athlete of the Year, the association announced Wednesday morning.
"I'm really excited to earn this award," said Jones. "Obviously this season isn't what anyone anticipated. I'm honored because I know that a lot of people put in a lot of hard work into the seasons they anticipated in having and I'm glad my hard work isn't going unnoticed. I cherish the season that we had and had a great time running in the uniform with my teammates and I'm glad that's being recognized. The competition was very fierce and the women I was up against were amazing athletes so I'm especially grateful to receive this honor."
Jones becomes just the eighth woman in the awards history to earn a National Women's Athlete of the Year honor in both cross country and track, joining the exclusive group of Karissa Schweizer (Missouri | 2016, '18), Molly Seidel (Notre Dame | 2015, '16), Abbey D'Agostino (Dartmouth | 2013, '13, '14), Sheila Reid (Villanova | 2010, '11, '11), Sally Kipyego (Texas Tech | 2006, '07, '08, '08, '08), Johanna Nilsson (Northern Arizona | 2005. '06) and Kim Smith (Providence | 2004, '04).
"It has been our pleasure to coach Dani," said Colorado head coach Mark Wetmore. "Her work ethic, racing courage and loyalty have led her into the pantheon of the greatest Colorado runners. It will be hard to see her go, but we know she will continue to excel."
The redshirt senior also joins Jenny (Barringer) Simpson as the only CU track and cross country athlete to earn two such honors. Simpson remains one of three female athletes to be named to National Women's Track Athlete of the Year for both indoors and outdoors along with Kipyego and Holli Hyche (Indiana State | 1994, '94) after she won both titles in 2009.
"The women I join are people that went on to do really great things and are probably better known for their careers after college," said Jones when asked about joining the elite club of athletes. "That makes me really excited and hopeful for the future, which is especially nice during this time. To fall under that category is really meaningful but it shows how much work I have left to do and hopefully how much running I have left."
Despite running in just four total races, Jones had an extraordinary track season. ...
Jones is top-two in every event from the 800 to 5,000 in CU history indoors and is in both the top-two DMR marks. Outdoors, Jones is in the top-10 in CU history in three events in just three seasons. She is a four-time NCAA champion, tied for the most in Colorado history with five other student-athletes.
The senior now has a first-class ticket to the Colorado Hall of Fame with a pair of National Athlete of the Year honors. She is one of 12 Buffaloes to ever be named to such an honor, joining the likes of Simpson and Rashaan Salaam, and becomes the fourth in the past 20 years to be named to two such honors.
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