In only his second steeplechase ever, Bailey Roth of Colorado won the boys 2000m steeplechase national title with a 5:49.24, the fifth best time in history among prep athletes. Entered in the slower heat with a seed time of 6:18.25, Roth surprised everyone — even himself — by running faster than anyone in the seeded section.
“It is a huge surprise; I was not sure what I could run. I’m really happy I could come out here and do that,” said Roth. “I didn’t know what to expect. I had always wanted to try it.”
From 800m to 1200m, Roth opened up an immense gap of nearly ten seconds on the field, clearing each of the barriers with ease. Passing 1600m in 4:38.89, Roth was clearly going to be the winner of his heat. The only question remaining was if anyone in the faster section could better his 5:49.24 time. The answer was no.
“Coming in, I thought I could run faster than my seed,” said the honest Roth.
RELATED: Records Fall On Day 1 At Nationals
Ironically, Roth’s first steeplechase came by accident at last year’s Caribbean Scholastic Invitational. At the encouragement of officials, Roth entered the steeplechase on a whim and won in 6:18.25, despite having no proper training. Before Saturday’s race, Roth only did a little hurdle work as preparation.
“Getting off the barriers here was a totally different thing for me,” he said. After his win, Roth said he surely will consider running the event more often in the future.
New York’s Keelin Hollowood won her second straight national title in the girls 2000m steeplechase, prevailing in the seeded section. Interestingly, the seeded section was made up of all New Yorkers; the state is known for their steeplechase talent and have produced champions like meet record holder Mary Kate Anselmini and 2012 champion Brianna Nerud.
After finishing second at the New York State Championships just last week, Hollowood was extra motivated to do well here. Taking the lead early, Hollowood led over the first two water jumps before relinquishing the front duties to Valerie Palermo — the New York state champion.
“I just came here wanting to make my last high school race the best I could,” said Hollowood. “I kicked very strong and wanted to finish strong.”
For a quarter mile, it looked as if Palermo may run away with the title. But Hollowood never gave in, coming back at the bell to take the lead. Increasing her cushion, she won going away with a time of 6:43.96.
“Coming here and not defending my title played in my head a couple times and was definitely not something I wanted to do. I just came out here today and gave the best I could,” said Hollowood, who will attend Providence College next year and be coached by Ray Treacy. Palermo placed second in 6:47.62.
Team FitFast of New Jersey won the girls 4x800m in 9:01.12 after being behind in the first two legs. On the boys side, Raber TC of Indiana took the title, though it was third place finisher Staples TC that caught many fans’ attention. Anchor Henry Wynne moved up six positions with a fierce 1:48.93 split.
“I was just doing it for the team, moving on up. I’m just amazed,” he said still out of breath.