USATF Men’s Steeple — Jager Runs His Streak To 7

Evan Jager tied Henry Marsh for the most consecutive steeple wins in meet history. (KEVIN MORRIS/PHOTO RUN)

Everyone watching knew Evan Jager was going to win. Everyone running knew Evan Jager was going to win. Evan Jager surely knew Evan Jager was going to win.

But that’s not what he thought, though, even after years of invincibility. He did extend his streak of national steeple titles to a record-tying 7, but with anxiety. “I had some pretty good nerves going to the first time, and then held that through 20 minutes past the original start time,” the 29-year-old Illinois native said. “Started coming back down. It was just different. I think my nerves popped up much closer to the race time than I originally would have. I don’t think it really affected me that much other than getting up twice, basically. I was able to stay focused mentally. Body probably actually felt better because I’d done two warmups and I was really loose and really warmed up.”

Just before the race was to begin, the Sunday storm’s 3-hour delay hit. When action did resume, the steeple pace was neither fast nor dawdling, but the Bowerman TC star can beat a domestic field under any tactics. In the end he broke his own Drake Stadium record with a time of 8:20.10, pulling away from Hillary Bor (8:22.58), Andy Bayer (8:24.66), Stanley Kebenei (8:28.39) and Jordan Mann (8:28.55) with a 59.68 last lap.

Jager has now won every U.S. title since ’12, matching Henry Marsh’s streak 1981–87 (Marsh also won in ’78 & ’79 for 9 wins overall). The delay was just another barrier to clear for the Olympic bronze medalist and AR holder. “I was ready to run at 1:00, 2:00, whenever. It didn’t matter,” he said. “If they had wanted to bring us back tomorrow, that was fine with me. I would have run whenever.”

For Bayer, 3rd was his best-ever at a Nationals. Unfortunately, a spot in the Olympics or World Championships was not on the line. The Indiana alum has finished 4th on 4 occasions: in the 1500 at the ’12 Olympic Trials, and in the steeple in ’15, ’16 & ’17. It was at Des Moines in ’12 where he won an NCAA title in the 1500. He is hoping to be in PR shape by the end of summer. “I wouldn’t say I felt good until the last two weeks,” Bayer said. “I just had a lot of things going on personally that I would say are really positive things. But it’s just a hard year to be fully into it in an off year.”


USATF MEN’S STEEPLE RESULTS

FINAL (June 24; interior water jump)

1. Evan Jager (BowTC) 8:20.10

(59.68, 2:01.82, 3:07.99, 4:16.52);

2. Hillary Bor (USAr) 8:22.58

(61.83, 2:03.99, 3:10.30, 4:18.96);

3. Andy Bayer (Nik) 8:24.66

(63.59, 2:05.87, 3:12.15, 4:20.73);

4. Stanley Kebenei (Nik) 8:28.39;

5. Jordan Mann (Ocean) 8:28.55 PR;

6. Haron Lagat (USAr) 8:28.88;

7. MJ Erb (SaucF) 8:29.09;

8. Dylan Blankenbaker (adi) 8:31.67;

9. Travis Mahoney (HokaNJNY) 8:32.24;

10. Tripp Hurt (unat) 8:34.45;

11. Aidan Tooker (Syr) 8:37.17;

12. Donn Cabral (HokaNJNY) 8:39.68;

13. Brandon Doughty (Zap) 8:40.12;

14. Isaac Updike (TRE) 8:40.22.

HEATS (June 22)

I–1. Updike 8:25.82 PR; 2. Bayer 8:28.42; 3. Kebenei 8:28.57; 4. Erb 8:28.62; 5. Mahoney 8:28.74; 6. Tooker 8:30.10 PR; 7. Cabral 8:31.61; 8. Doughty 8:33.28 PR;

9. Kyle Medina (Chico) 8:34.83 PR; 10. Steven Fahy (Stan) 8:38.63; 11. Jacob Heslington (BYU) 8:39.30 PR; 12. Craig Nowak (Asics) 8:46.12; 13. Michael Leet (Lewis) 9:05.23.

II–1. Jager 8:31.79; 2. Bor 8:32.37; 3. Hurt 8:33.22 PR; 4. Blankenbaker 8:33.29; 5. Mann 8:33.31 PR; 6. Lagat 8:33.41;

7. Andrew Gardner (Wa) 8:36.02; 8. Brian Shrader (SaucF) 8:37.98 PR; 9. Josh Thompson (BowTC) 8:38.03; 10. Mason Ferlic (Nik) 8:43.41; 11. Daniel Carney (BYU) 8:48.71; 12. Brian Barraza (Hous) 8:49.15; 13. David Goodman (BouTC) 8:57.64. □

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