Back With Wetmore, Simpson Wins Drake 1500m

Jenny Simpson won the 1500m at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Jenny Simpson won the 1500m at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Simpson won the competitive 1500m race on Friday night at the Drake Relays.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Jenny Simpson, back training in Boulder under former college coach Mark Wetmore, won her 2013 racing debut Friday night at the Drake Relays in Iowa.

Simpson won several NCAA titles, set numerous collegiate records, as well as the American record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and made the 2008 U.S. Olympic team while running for the University of Colorado from 2005-2009, but when she suddenly found herself without a coach after she signed a lucrative pro contract with New Balance in January 2010.

Simpson eventually moved to Monument, Colo., south of Denver and trained at the U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Olympic Training Center under the guidance of Air Force coach Juli Benson, a 1996 U.S.. Olympian in the 1500m. Under Benson’s guidance, Simpson won the 1500m at the 2011 world championships and also made the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in the event.

But she failed to make the Olympic finals last summer and also hasn’t improved her PRs in the 1500m or 5,000m since leaving school.

In a move that astonished many in the Colorado running community, Simpson announced in December that she was moving back to Boulder and would reunite with Wetmore. Although she skipped the indoor season, she’s been training at CU and helping coach the Buffaloes’ track team as a volunteer assistant. In Boulder, she’ll be able to mentor CU steeplechasers Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp, who each made the Olympic team last summer in the steeplechase.

Despite what was known to be a rough parting at the time, Simpson and Wetmore, and CU assistant coach Heather Burroughs, have apparently fended fences.

“I thought back to the years I spent at CU. It was just a really special chemistry — coach and athlete — between Mark and Heather (Burroughs) and myself,” Simpson told The Denver Post. “You can’t expect that everywhere, and sometimes it just can’t be replicated. Sometimes there’s just this peace you can’t define, and a method to training, that I think I definitely have at CU.”

Simpson beat a deep women’s 1500m field that also included Morgan Uceny, the No. 1 ranked runner in the world in 2011, Shannon Rowbury, the 2009 world championship bronze medallist in the event, and Mary Cain, the national high school record-holder.

For more: The Denver Post

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