Hamilton sets up the fastest steeple in the world: McManus and Taylor qualify for the NCAAs
Montana State’s Duncan Hamilton ran a world-best time of the season in the 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday night at the NCAA Outdoor West First Round at Hornet Stadium, setting a school and Big Sky record of 8:16.23. Hamilton’s time is the second fastest collegiate steeplechase in history, just behind Washington State’s Henry Rono, who posted a time of 8:05.40 on May 13, 1978.
Hamilton’s time also qualifies him for the June 7-10 NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas.
“[MSU head coach]Lyle (Weese) made it pretty clear that this would be a great opportunity to run fast,” Hamilton said. “It was the perfect conditions, running at sea level and the ideal temperature that encouraged you to run faster. It was really the first opportunity this season to host a race like this.”
In the Bobcats, three athletes competed in the Steeplechase, each running in their own heat.
Levi Taylor was the first to retire for MSU. “Levi got off to a good start, but then got caught in traffic,” said Weese. “He had a bit of a positional problem, but what’s special about Levi is that he becomes a fighter with 600-700 meters to go and he just missed the target and things went in his favour.”
Taylor, a junior from Laurel who placed ninth at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships, finished fourth in his round with a season best of 8:33.82.
“It was a huge relief to run in heat one and set a good time,” said Taylor. “I wasn’t overly worried about the time not holding.”
The top three finishers of each heat, as well as the next three fastest times, qualified for the NCAA championships.
Hamilton prevailed in the second heat as the nearest competitor finished almost nine seconds behind the Bozeman native.
“It’s bittersweet,” Hamilton said. “I’m a little depressed. I was looking for the 8:15.00 mark. I felt good and strong in the hurdles. Last year we made history when two of us competed in national championships and now there are three of us. I love this sport.” and it’s much more fun with people by your side.”
Weese wasn’t surprised by Hamilton’s historic performance. “Duncan has high expectations of himself. It was fun to watch him get started.”
Redshirt rookie Rob McManus was the last Bobcat to compete and had the advantage of watching his teammates post excellent times. “I was a little worried but knew what I had to do,” McManus said. “I felt like we (heat 3) put in a fast time.”
The final run was not without drama, however. With three runners ahead of McManus and the automatic places, the race went to Joel Mendez of Cashmere, Wash. and Utah Valley. As Mendez cleared the final water hurdle, he fell and McManus raced to fourth place.
“It was pretty tough going through the final hurdles,” said McManus. “I saw these three guys in front of me and I knew what I had to do. I’m thrilled to be a part of this and couldn’t be happier to be going to the NCAAs with my teammates. That means a lot to me.”
McManus and Taylor both qualified for the NCAA championships on time. Overall, McManus finished sixth in 8:31.13 — a personal record, while Taylor was ninth.
“All in all, it was an incredibly exciting day,” said Weese. “It couldn’t have gone better. It was one of the better and strongest steeplechase races I’ve ever seen.”
Ben Perrin, who qualified for his first NCAA championships on Wednesday in the 10,000 meters, finished 15th overall in the 5,000 meters Friday night and finished eighth in the opening heat with a time of 13:41.94.
Lucy Corbett will wrap up the MSU stint in the high jump at the NCAA Outdoor West First Round, which is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. MT Saturday afternoon.