Women’s Steeplechase Sets History: BYU’s Elizabeth Jackson Breaks Her Own American Record to Win the First Women’s Steeplechase

By: Adam Jude
Source: Oregon Daily Emerald

All hail Title IX.

Thanks in large part to the 1972 legislation, which mandates gender equality in education and sports, NCAA female track athletes are now, like men, allowed to run around a circle, jump over a hurdle every 100 meters while soaking their feet in a small pond.

And after nearly two miles of running, jumping and bathing, the first person to cross the finish line gets the glory of an NCAA championship.

“I knew [winning] wasn’t going to be a given,” Brigham Young’s Elizabeth Jackson said after securing her place in the record books as the first champion of the women’s steeplechase Friday at Hayward Field. “If I was going to win, I knew I was going to have to work for it. All of the girls had really good times.”

Jackson broke her own American record in the 3,000-meter race with a time of 9:49.73. She also ran the fourth fastest steeplechase of all time.

“I think [the steeplechase] is still progressing,” Jackson said. “We’re going to see times in the 30s and 40s before too long.”

Rebecca Bennion, a sophomore at Weber State, finished second (9:54.84) and Arizona State’s Kelly MacDonald, a Tualatin native, (9:55.87) was third.

“I really enjoy it,” MacDonald said of running the steeplechase for just the fourth time, all in the last four weeks. “It gives me something to focus on besides counting laps. It’s more exciting. You have to have a mental toughness more than physical.”

Jackson said her legs were tired Thursday, a day after running a 10:11.94 preliminary. She questioned whether the NCAA should keep the preliminary time trials.

“I was so nervous before the race,” Jackson said. “I was like, ‘I don’t think I can do it.'”

The men’s steeplechase was tight throughout and came down to the final hurdle. Daniel Lincoln of Arkansas took the trophy in 8:42.31. Weber State’s Jeremy Tolman (8:42.85) was second and Colorado’s Steve Slattery (8:42.91) was third.

Ohio State’s Ian Connor was in the first pack heading into the final pass of the water pit and would likely have placed in the top three, but he fell in the pit and injured his leg. Connor was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd as he limped the final 150 meters.

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