USATF Men’s Steeple — Bor Had The Answer

Evan Jager gave strong chase, but Hillary Bor’s kick was too much. (KEVIN MORRIS)

YEARS FROM NOW, if someone asks, “Who won the ’22 U.S. steeplechase championship?” you could be forgiven if you mistakenly answer “Evan Jager.” Because let’s face it — he won a big emotional victory in this race.

But let’s be very clear about this: the ’22 U.S. champion is Hillary Bor. He crossed the line first, and deserves top billing.

The Kenyan-born Bor, formerly a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, skillfully let others set the pace and just waited for his moment to strike. As Brian Barraza led the field through the first kilo in 2:45.80, Bor perched on his shoulder in second. A kilo later, with many runners still in the hunt — little more than a second separated 1st and 7th — Bor slightly trailed Montana State’s Duncan Hamilton (5:36.25) and Jager, and slightly led Benard Keter, an active Army soldier.

Jager took charge with two laps remaining, but gave way to Bor with about 450m left. Bor, Jager and Keter separated themselves from Hamilton at the bell and it became clear who would represent the U.S. in July.

It also became clear who would win — Bor’s move was decisive and his lead steadily grew to the end, to the point that he could wave to the crowd before crossing the line in 8:15.76. Behind him, Keter led Jager over the water jump, but Jager fought back for silver. Jager’s 8:17.29 got him under the WC standard (8:22.00); Keter finished in 8:19.16.

“I feel good,” the 32-year-old Bor said. “I’ve had a good season so far. Last year I was really frustrated for not making the finals in Tokyo. Missing the final last year, I wasn’t expecting it. Using that as a motivation has been helpful.”

For Jager, 33, the race was another step in a painful climb back up the mountaintop he once sat on. Arguably America’s greatest ever steepler, he holds the American Record, missed the sub-8 club by less than half a second, and has Olympic silver and WC bronze in his trophy cabinet. But due to injuries, this was his first Nationals race over the barriers since ’18.

“It’s been extremely challenging, probably more bad days than good days the past four years,” he said. “A lot of days of not enjoying what I was doing, but I was just kind of stubborn enough to not give up and just try to prove to myself that I could get back to where I once was and where I thought I could be again.”


MEN’S STEEPLE RESULTS

FINAL (June 25; interior waterjump)

1. Hillary Bor (Hoka/ADP) 8:15.76

(35.87, 66.69 [1:42.56], 66.99 [2:49.55], 67.86 [3:57.41], 67.84 [5:05.25], 66.08 [6:11.33], 63.73 [7:15.06], 60.70) (60.70, 2:04.43, 3:10.51, 4:18.35);

2. Evan Jager (NikBow) 8:17.29 (61.94, 2:06.14, 3:12.27, 4:19.76);

3. Benard Keter (Nik/USAr) 8:19.16 (63.90, 2:07.83);

4. Duncan Hamilton (Mt) 8:20.23 (64.31, 2:09.13);

5. Anthony Rotich (Nik/USAr) 8:23.15 (65.47, 2:11.07);

6. Mason Ferlic 8:24.60 (68.46, 2:12.79);

7. Levi Taylor (Mt) 8:29.75;

8. Travis Mahoney (Empire) 8:30.74;

9. Brian Barraza (adi/TinE) 8:31.11; 10. Kenneth Rooks (BYU) 8:37.17; 11. Frankline Tonui 8:37.43; 12. Parker Stokes 8:37.71; 13. Daniel Michalski 8:41.49; 14. Michael Leet 8:44.22.

HEATS (June 23)

I–1. Michalski 8:23.39; 2. Jager 8:23.57; 3. Bor 8:24.42; 4. Ferlic 8:24.65; 5. Leet 8:25.35; 6. Barraza 8:26.48; 7. Taylor 8:27.05 PR; 8. Stokes 8:29.84; 9. Joey Berriatua (TinE) 8:31.03; 10. Matthew Wilkinson (Mn) 8:36.96; 11. Colton Johnsen (WaSt) 8:45.98; 12. Machlin Marsing (BYU) 8:57.55; 13. Brody Smith (unat) 9:10.62.

II–1. Keter 8:28.92; 2. Mahoney 8:29.10; 3. Rooks 8:29.44; 4. Rotich 8:29.53; 5. Hamilton 8:29.56; 6. Tonui 8:29.85; 7. Alec Basten (Mn) 8:29.90; 8. Fitsum Seyoum (UArm/DS) 8:35.84; 9. Brandon Doughty (UArm) 8:36.63; 10. Jordan Mann (OceanStAC) 8:39.00; 11. Julius Diehr (OceanStAC) 8:44.70; 12. Jackson Mestler (Tracksm) 8:58.31.

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