Hamilton Posts World’s Fastest Steeple: McManus & Taylor Qualify for NCAAs

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Montana State’s Duncan Hamilton ran the World’s fastest time this season in the 3000-meter steeplechase clocking a school and Big Sky record 8:16.23 on Friday night at the NCAA Outdoor West First Round in Hornet Stadium. Hamilton’s time is the second fastest collegiate steeplechase in history, second only to Washington State’s Henry Rono who put up a mark of 8:05.40 on May 13, 1978.

Hamilton’s time also qualifies him for the NCAA Championships, June 7-10 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 with an ideal temperature, all of which encourage you to run faster. It really was the first opportunity all season to have a race like this.”    

The Bobcats had three athletes competing in steeplechase, each running in their own heat.

Levi Taylor was the first out for MSU. “Levi got off the line well, but then got caught up in traffic,” Weese said. “He had a bit of a position problem, but the thing about Levi is that with 600-700-meters left he becomes a fighter and just gutted-out the finish and things went in his favor.”

Taylor, a junior from Laurel who placed ninth at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships, finished fourth in his heat with a season-best 8:33.82.

“It was super relieving to run in the first heat and post a good time,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t too worried about it (time) not holding.”

The top three finishers in each heat plus the next three fastest times qualified for the NCAA Championships.

Hamilton cut loose in the second heat as the next competitor finished almost nine-seconds behind the Bozeman native.

“It’s bittersweet,” Hamilton said. “I’m a little bummed. I was looking for that 8:15.00 mark. I felt good and strong over the hurdles. Last year we made history with two of us going to nationals, and now we have three. I love this sport and it’s a lot more fun with people by your side.”

Weese was not surprised by Hamilton’s historical effort. “Duncan sets high expectations for himself. It was fun to watch him cut loose.”

Redshirt-freshman Rob McManus was the last Bobcat to race and had the benefit of watching his teammates put up outstanding times. “I was a little bit worried but knew what I had to do,” McManus said. “I felt like we (heat 3) were putting up a fast time.”

The final heat was not without drama, however. With three runners ahead of McManus and grabbing the automatic spots, the race came down to the Cashmere, Wash., product, and Utah Valley’s Joel Mendez. Going over the last water hurdle, Mendez fell, and McManus raced to a fourth-place finish.

“It was pretty tiring going over the final hurdles,” McManus said. “I saw those three guys ahead of me and knew what I had to do. I’m stoked to get in and I couldn’t be happier to be going to the NCAAs with my teammates. This means a lot.”

McManus and Taylor both qualified for the NCAA Championships based on time. Overall, McManus finished sixth in 8:31.13- a personal record, while Taylor placed ninth.

“Overall, it was an incredibly exciting day,” Weese said. “It couldn’t have gone any better. This was one of the better and strongest steeplechase races I’ve seen.”
Ben Perrin, who qualified for his first NCAA Championships on Wednesday in the 10,000-meters, finished 15th overall at 5000-meters on Friday night, placing eight in the opening heat in a clocking of 13:41.94.
Lucy Corbett will conclude MSU’s stay at the NCAA Outdoor West First Round competing in high jump, slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. (MT) on Saturday afternoon.

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