Olympic Trials Men’s Steeple — Hillary Bor Had The Best Last Lap

Training mates Hillary Bor & Benard Keter were the only two with sub-60 final circuits. (KEVIN MORRIS)

THANKS TO DONN CABRAL’S going to the front and staying there for the better part of 6 circuits, the steeplechase deferred all of its drama until the final 600.

The penultimate water jump is the place defending USATF champion Hillary Bor chose to start his drive to the finish. Almost immediately, yearly list leader Isaac Updike went to the front. The pack quickly dwindled to 5 as Mason Ferlic, Benard Keter and Daniel Michalski stayed close.

Updike led through the next turn. With a quick glance over his shoulder, the 31-year-old Bor shot past him at the top of the final backstretch. Keter, his training partner, followed. Ferlic responded, catching up with Updike at the water jump. Bor and Keter battled coming off the turn, but by the final barrier, the race was over. Bor took the win at 8:21.34, with Keter at 8:21.81.

“I wanted to make a move with 300 to go,” said the winner, now a 2-time Olympian. “It was tough but a big accomplishment. I wanted to make sure 2016 wasn’t a fluke.”

The victory was even better, the Rio 7th-placer said, because he shared it with Keter: “It means a lot. We push each other a lot in the process. I’m really happy for Benard. He worked so hard and wanted it really badly.”

For Keter it was a big turnaround from his April performance at the USATF GP on the same track, when he clocked a mediocre 8:39.38 for 10th. “I knew I needed to improve to give myself a chance at the Olympic team.”

Ferlic looked as if he had timed his kick perfectly, but Michalski came on hard and pulled to within a stride. The comebacking Michigan alum managed to hold that margin to the finish, where he grabbed the final team berth in 8:22.05, with Michalski 4th in 8:22.54. Updike wound up 5th (8:24.72) as Cabral held on for 6th (8:25.95).

Sean McGorty placed 7th in 8:27.05 but never was a factor after running a hard race in qualifying to grab the last time qualifier after stopping to fix his shoe mid-race.

Ferlic later revealed that he held on in the final strides despite having a “blackout or an asthma attack.” As a child he had issues with asthma and heat, and 94-degree weather perhaps triggered it again. Medicos treated him with an inhaler before he celebrated his Tokyo prospects.

The ’16 NCAA champion finished 5th at the last Trials but here marked a solid comeback after several years of pro running that did not shine. “It wasn’t until 2020 when we pumped the brakes and I realized I needed to listen to my body,” he said.

7-time national champion Evan Jager, the Rio silver medalist, pulled out of the meet just a few days before it began, citing a serious calf tear.

MEN’S STEEPLE RESULTS

(June 25; interior water jump)

1. Hillary Bor (Hoka) 8:21.34

(pace—37.77 [37.77], 68.77 [1:46.54], 68.75 [2:55.29], 68.25 [4:03.54], 68.08 [5:11.62], 66.25 [6:17.87], 63.87 [7:21.74], 59.60)

(finish—59.60, 2:03.47, 3:09.72, 4:17.80);

2. Benard Keter (NikUSAr) 8:21.81 (59.95, 2:03.18, 3:10.34, 4:17.98);

3. Mason Ferlic (Tracksm) 8:22.05 (60.02, 2:03.93, 3:10.21, 4:18.04);

4. Daniel Michalski (Nik) 8:22.54 (60.29, 2:04.22, 3:10.69, 4:18.70);

5. Isaac Updike (EmpE) 8:24.72 (63.19, 2:06.47, 3:12.99, 4:20.90);

6. Donn Cabral (Tracksm) 8:25.95 (63.41, 2:08.18, 3:14.57, 4:22.66);

7. Sean McGorty (NikBowTC) 8:27.05 (63.00, 2:07.92, 3:15.00, 4:23.41);

8. Obsa Ali (Asics) 8:29.98 (66.53, 2:11.32, 3:17.67, 4:25.77);

9. Travis Mahoney (Hoka) 8:30.30 (64.91, 2:10.30, 3:17.37, 4:25.32);

10. Alec Basten (Mn) 8:33.32 (68.13, 2:13.94, 3:20.88, 4:29.03);

11. Brian Barraza (adiTinE) 8:33.70 (67.82, 2:14.44, 3:21.50, 4:29.60);

12. Jackson Mestler (Or) 8:36.58 (70.37, 2:16.92, 3:24.01, 4:32.16);

13. Anthony Rotich (NikUSAr) 8:40.71 (71.04, 2:20.32, 3:28.05, 4:36.17);

14. Duncan Hamilton (MtStB) 8:45.67 (73.35, 2:24.70, 3:32.71, 4:41.05).

HEATS (June 21)

I–1. Updike 8:21.01; 2. Bor 8:21.09; 3. Michalski 8:22.03; 4. Basten 8:22.22 PR; 5. Mahoney 8:24.05 PR; 6. Cabral 8:24.14; 7. Hamilton 8:25.70 PR; 8. Rotich 8:25.74; 9. McGorty 8:25.95; 10. Fitsum Seyoum (VaT) 8:28.72; 11. Derek Johnson (Va) 8:32.97; 12. Frankline Tonui (NikUSAr) 8:37.94; 13. James Quattlebaum (unat) 8:51.73; 14. David Goodman (TmBou) 8:52.02; 15. Craig Nowak (unat) 8:57.74.

II–1. Keter 8:29.04; 2. Ferlic 8:30.78; 3. Ali 8:31.54; 4. Barraza 8:31.96; 5. Mestler 8:33.09; 6. Jordan Cross (Tracksm) 8:35.58; 7. Mike Leet (unat) 8:37.12; 8. Brandon Doughty (UArmDS) 8:40.33; 9. Alex Rogers (ReebB) 8:49.36; 10. Craig Huff (HokaAg) 8:49.98; 11. Garrett Marsing (BYU) 8:53.37; 12. Jordan Mann (NBal) 8:54.09; 13. Bennett Pascoe (ArSt) 8:56.81; 14. Michael Jordan (NikUSAr) 9:12.79.

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