Track & Field

MSU’s Hamilton takes fifth in steeplechase to earn All-American honors


Steeplechase Results (Final) Photo attached of Duncan Hamilton courtesy of Andrew Pedersen, Montana State Athletics

EUGENE, Ore. – A late push over the final 800 meters of the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals propelled Montana State’s Duncan Hamilton to a fifth-place finish in the event on Friday, June 11, at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field. Hamilton’s showing earned him First Team All-America accolades, the first for a Bobcat men’s competitor in six years.

Hamilton ran in the midst of a field of 12 runners in the finals race for a majority of the race, but found himself in the back of the pack with 800 meters remaining. 

“The plan was to stick with the front pack for as much of the race as I can and then really cut down those last couple of laps,” Hamilton said. “I was there for the first two or three laps, but then people just started passing and there wasn’t any where I could go and then I got spit out at the back which is really not what I wanted. I tried to make a move and bridge my way back up to the front once, but I was expending more energy than I’d like to for not a whole lot of time, so I settled in again.

“The last 800 it started to string out a little bit more, so I thought it was now or never to make my move.” 

The Bozeman native started to make up ground as he moved into the top 10 going into the final lap. Hamilton closed in on a podium finish down the home stretch, but eventually settled for fifth place as he crossed the finish line in a time of 8 minutes, 31.55 seconds. His mark topped the previous school record he set in the semifinals on Wednesday by more than fourth tenths of a second. 

Hamilton’s time in the finals was just one-hundredth of a second behind Garrett Marsing of BYU for fourth place, while third-place finisher Ryan Smeeton of Oklahoma State finished less than a second ahead of the Bobcat distance runner. 

“I really got in focus, sped up and passed a bunch of people,” Hamilton said. “Coming around that last water barrier I was in fifth, fourth was in range, third place fell on the last barrier and I gave it everything I could to get on the podium.

“I ended up fifth which I’m super happy with. To end up fifth in my first NCAA outdoor meet is amazing, I’m so happy.” 

Hamilton’s time of 2:07.31 over the course of the final 800 meters was the third fastest in the field. His mark over the last 400 meters of 1:01.77 only trailed gold medalist Kigen Chimadi of Middle Tennessee State.   

“It was really interesting how the race went,” said Lyle Weese, Montana State’s Dale Kennedy Director of Track and Field. “The start of the race was pretty quick, but then it settled in and was a lot slower. Everyone was still in the race, the pack was super close and there wasn’t much room. Just a lot of that kind of depends on the flow of the race. 

“Right when the race really started to go, that’s when Duncan was sort of in the back. It put him in a tough position, but he did a great job of fighting through it. He really moved like crazy the last 400, and especially the last 200, he probably had the fastest one of anybody in that entire race. It was amazing how he finished.” 

Hamilton became just the third First Team All-American for the men’s program at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the previous decade (Cristian Soratos in 2015 and Patrick Casey in 2011). The sophomore’s showing was the best at the NCAA outdoor meet since 2003 when Weese placed fifth in the same event. 

“That’s definitely the exciting part,” Weese said of Hamilton’s appearance as a sophomore in Eugene. “This is his second outdoor season and to come to the NCAA Championships, place fifth and be right in it, battling there with the best in the NCAA, that’s super exciting. It’s a testament to how hard he’s worked throughout his entire life, but especially this past year, because it’s been more challenging and more independent than usual.” 

Hamilton’s fifth-place finish scored four points for Montana State towards the team standings. His First Team All-America honors topped his previous Second Team All-America showing he had at this season’s NCAA Indoor Championships. 

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