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Dani Jones On Her Decision To Turn Pro After Four NCAA Titles At Colorado

“I honestly never expected entering CU to leave the way I did. I know that Colorado gave me everything I needed to succeed. Mark and Heather gave me every opportunity and every chance in the world to be great. Because of that, I’ll always root for them and I’ll always root for the Buffs. I’m really just grateful for the experience I had and I know there will be more athletes like me.”

Dani Jones joins the CITIUS MAG Podcast after announcing that she has decided to forego her remaining NCAA eligibility to turn professional and sign with Hawi Management. The four-time NCAA champion out of the University of Colorado said she will be joining Joe Bosshard’s Boulder-based training group that includes Emma Coburn, Aisha Praught, Dominique Scott and Cory McGee.

We run through the decision-making process that took place after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped away her attempt at an 800/mile double at the 2020 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and then her last remaining outdoor season. This outdoor season was going to be focused on winning the NCAA 1,500 meter title, hitting the Olympic standard in the same event and making a push at the U.S. Olympic trials. With the Summer Games and trials postponed a year, Jones is among the athletes who could reap the benefit of one more year of training.

Jones takes us through the biggest races of her Colorado career including the 2017 NCAA indoor titles in the DMR and 3,000m, the 2018 NCAA cross country individual and team title and last year’s NCAA 5,000m outdoor title, which came shortly after her father’s passing.

We also touch on the influence of coaches Mark and Heather Burroughs in her development, training with Jenny Simpson and where she stands among the greats that have come out of Colorado. (Plus, her Mt. Rushmore of Colorado Buffaloes)

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Dani Jones on the moment NCAA Indoor Championships were canceled:

“Joe Klecker, our DMR, Makena Morley and I had all gone to the track and done our strides. We kept getting news and started to get prepared for the worst. I remember I was getting worked on by one of our athletic trainers and I just get a text message from Mark saying ‘Canceled.’ What else can you say to a group of people who worked really hard and it’s from no fault of anybody. It was interesting seeing everyone’s coping reactions on the team. Me and Makena made it a point not to see each other for a while because we knew we were going to get really emotional so I kind of locked myself in my room. Joe Klecker was out at the mall eating soft pretzels. It was tough. It was certainly hard to be at the meet and to have taken all the steps. For me, especially running the double that I was planning on, I had done a lot of training specific to that double: doing workouts within an hour of each other or doing back-to-back workouts and stuff like that. Thinking about those two or three weeks of really tough training sessions was hard but also not getting the opportunity to show off a little bit. I’ve been telling people that with no races happening, it’s a good opportunity to get back to the basics and just find the joy in running that you had when you were a kid – not doing everything for the sake of competing. You do get wrapped up in it. That’s my favorite part of it. It’s competing. Being able to just enjoy running day-to-day without knowing when it’s going to pay off has been a good lesson for me.”

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