NCAA Men’s Steeple — Stokes Seized The Moment

Parker Stokes came off the final water barrier (photo not the last lap) with crucial momentum. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

THE WATER JUMP barrier played a significant role in the NCAA steeplechase championship race. Built with an unusually tight turn into the barrier — not that many complaints have been lodged — it caused multiple challenges to the runners.

Virginia junior Nathan Mountain came in with the best time in ’24 (8:20.68) but Georgetown’s Parker Stokes had the best PR, from when he placed 3rd at the ’22 NCAA (8:18.88). Neither was the formchart favorite. That rating went to Eastern Kentucky senior Abdelhakim Abouzouhir.

SEC champion Victor Kibiego of Texas A&M, 3rd last year as a UTEP frosh, stepped off the track in his semi, a hard points knock for the Aggies.

“I knew I had to stay calm in the early part of the race and then run the last K hard!” said 2-time ACC champ Mountain, the top returner to make the final (4th in ’23).

Abouzouhir accommodated him and surged to the lead on the first lap. Mountain’s teammate Yasin Sado stayed close to the lead as did Stokes, Big 12 champ James Corrigan of BYU and CJ Singleton of Notre Dame.

Honestly, all 12 finalists were in striking distance at the halfway point. With just over 3 laps remaining, Sado came off the water jump awkwardly and went to a knee at the edge of the pit. A lap later the pace quickened as Mountain moved to the lead. With 1½ laps to go Stokes moved to Mountain’s hip and pulled Singleton to 3rd. Abouzouhir ran in 4th.

As Mountain projected, the last K was going to be ‘hard’!

With Stokes on his hip, Mountain appeared to stutter as he approached the final water jump, almost falling into the drink. Likewise, Stokes was off center but maintained his balance better and shifted into high gear. He ran away from Mountain, winning 8:24.58–8:25.71. Iowa State’s Gable Sieperda was the fastest finisher, blowing past Abouzouhir 8:25.92–8:27.09.

“The execution was to stay in 2nd, 3rd or 4th” champ Stokes said, “and let everyone else do the work. Then I would unleash my kick. The plan worked!”


FINAL (June 07; interior water jump)

1. Parker Stokes (Gtn) 8:24.58 (60.44, 2:04.78, 3:11.62, 4:19.96);

2. *Nathan Mountain (Va) 8:25.71 (61.61, 2:06.28, 3:13.01, 4:21.29);

3. Gable Sieperda (IaSt) 8:25.92 PR (61.00, 2:05.73, 3:12.51, 4:20.47);

4. Abdelhakim Abouzouhir’ (EnKy-Mor) 8:27.09;

5. **CJ Singleton (NDm) 8:27.46 PR;

6. *Estanis Ruiz’ (Port-Spa) 8:28.15 PR;

7. Yasin Sado (Va) 8:28.17;

8. Alexander Korczynski (NEn) 8:29.42 PR;

9. **James Corrigan (BYU) 8:29.61; 10. **Jackson Shorten (Prin) 8:29.84 PR; 11. Tom Seitzer (NDm) 8:35.70; 12. Levi Taylor (MtSt) 8:43.47.

SEMIS (June 05)

I–1. Abouzouhir’ 8:32.58; 2. Mountain 8:32.92; 3. Stokes 8:32.95; 4. Sieperda 8:32.96; 5. Taylor 8:33.11; 6. Korczynski 8:33.13 PR; 7. **Rob Mcmanus (MtSt) 8:33.43; 8. Brett Gardner (NCSt) 8:37.77; 9. Luke Labatte (ND) 8:41.70; 10. ***Kole Mathison (Co) 8:51.95; 11. *Kristian Imroth (EnKy) 8:52.92; 12. *Owen Smith (MtSt) 9:04.23.

II–1. Corrigan 8:28.84 PR; 2. Ruiz’ 8:29.00 PR; 3. Singleton 8:29.23 PR; 4. Sado 8:30.03; 5. Shorten 8:31.68 PR; 6. Seitzer 8:32.46 PR; 7. Victor Shitsama’ (OkSt-Ken) 8:35.30; 8. **Caleb Jarema (Mi) 8:41.95; 9. Carlos Santos’ (SB-ElS) 8:43.07; 10. *Hayden Harward (SnUt) 8:52.35; 11. ***Wyatt Haughton (BYU) 9:00.96;… dnf—*Victor Kibiego’ (TxAM-Ken).