Anselmini, Owens clear championship barriers in steeple

By Christopher Hunt

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Mary Kate Anselmini said since she joined the Ward Melville track team in eighth grade, she had as much fun as she did this season.

This spring she took the pressure off. Anselmini acknowledged that she was stronger than she had ever been. She trusted that. And she ran better and faster than she ever had before, capping it all with her second national championship Saturday at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals.

Anselmini set a meet record the 2,000 steeplechase in 6:34.69 at North Carolina A&T. The Stanford recruit ended her high school career has the nation’s best steeplechaser ever. She set the national record at 6:33.01 two weeks ago. Anselmini said last week at the New York State meet that she didn’t think she would make a run at her national record. Nonetheless, she came around the last bend with a chance to further cement herself as the best scholastic steeplechaser in nation history.

“My thoughts changed throughout the week,” Anselmini said. “The more you start to think about it the more plausible it became. I think the heat just got to me at the end.”

Anselmini was on a solo run with three laps left. Amy-Eloise Neale (Snohomish, Wash.) finished second in 6:42.48 with Emily de La Bruyere of the Brearley School finished third in 6:50.00 with Pawling’s Samantha Jorgensen scoring fifth in 6:58.15.

Packer-Collegiate’s Eddie Owens won the boys 2,000 steeplechase in 5:49.40, barely off the meet record (5:49.11 by Cory Thorne in 2005).  Owens, who is headed to Princeton, has been one of the most dominant forces in the steeplechase this season, having clocked 8:59.53 for the 3,000 steeplechase in April. But Owens has struggled to regain the same form.

Owens struggled badly in the 3,200 at the state meet and dropped out of the 5,000 Thursday night.

“This is my thing,” Owens said of the steeple. “I just wanted to come out here – it’s 5 laps – I just wanted to get through it and hard as I could.”

Owens complained mostly of fatigue over the past month but he didn’t show signs of it Saturday, even if he said the heat sapped his legs.

“It’s just that last half lap when you struggle,” Owens said. “You already have dead legs. Then you gotta jump over steeple barriers with dead legs. I pushed down the homestretch just praying I could get that meet record.”

Bronxville junior Dayton Flannery won Heat 1 to finish second overall in 6:03.76. Thomas Diliberto of St. Anthony’s placed fourth in 6:04.76, as New York athletes swept the top five places.

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