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The women’s steeplechase victory went to Emma Coburn of Team New Balance winning her sixth consecutive title at the USATF Outdoor Championships with little drama in 9:20.28, her slowest winning time since 2013.
Coburn, the 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medalist, ran from the front, slowly ramping up the pace, and gently pulling away from her 2016 Olympic teammates, Courtney Frerichs and Colleen Quigley of the Nike Bowerman Track Club. Frerichs and Quigley finished second and third, respectively, in 9:22.23 and 9:25.40. All three women ran well under the 9:42.00 IAAF qualifying time.
“You know, the U.S. Championships are always so important, and as the years go on there’s kind of a double-edged sword where I feel more comfortable and more confident,” Coburn said. “At the same time, I have more to lose because I want to keep my streak going, and the women’s steeple is getting more and more competitive.”
In the men’s steeplechase race yesterday, Evan Jager of the Nike Bowerman Track Club ran patiently, took control of the race with a lap to go, began to pull away from the field on the backstretch, then shot decisively ahead through the final water jump to clinch his sixth straight USA title in 8:16.88.
“I knew it was going to be hard,” Jager said. “It was a little windy, so I didn’t want to be out in the lead for four and a half laps like last year. So, I wanted to wait and kind of trusted my speed and my hurdling form, my technique, against the rest of the guys.”
Two former Kenyans, Stanley Kebenei (Nike/American Distance Project) and Hillary Bor (U.S. Army), desperately tried to catch Jager in the homestretch and took second and third, respectively, in 8:18.54 and 8:18.83. Andy Bayer, Jager’s former teammate at the Bowerman Track Club, ran an excellent 8:18.90, but finished fourth for the third consecutive time at these championships, and the fourth in five years.