By Christopher Hunt
Today Eddie Owens was packing a bag to join his future Princeton teammates at a preseason training camp in Utah. While he stuffed a suitcase to prepare for his future he still couldn’t shake his feelings of the recent past.
The recent Packer Collegiate grad is having trouble letting go of his last race because he officially becomes a collegiate athlete. He finished second at the Pan American Junior Championships Sunday in the 3,000 steeplechase. It wasn’t that Owens lost. That’s not the problem.
It’s that he was closing in on the eventual winner, Fernando Roman of Puerto Rico, when Owens practically fell into the final water jump, costing him any shot of a gold medal.
“I must have looked up at him and got distracted for a second,” Owens said. “I kind of kind of tripped or slipped on that final water barrier. I sort of stumbled and went down. It was terrible. When you go down, you’re race is done. It was heart breaking. I was right there.”
Owens, the New Balance Outdoor Nationals steeplechase champ, finished second in 9:07.11. Roman clocked 8:59.52. For Owens though, it was the end of an outstanding senior campaign where he elevated himself among the best distance runners in the country and one of the best young steeplechasers in the world.
After a breakout cross country season where Owens was named the Gatorade New York XC Athlete of the Year. Owens had already made himself a huge fish in a tiny pond, competing in the AIS league, where he rarely saw formidable competition outside of major invitationals or state championships.
But he’ll join the Princeton cross country team today in Park City, Utah. Unfortunately, it’ll be another eight months before he can race in the steeplechase.
“I’m really excited to run for a college team,” Owens said. “I mean, it’s fun to race in high school and win your high school races. But the way I was winning in my small races, that stopped being fun a while ago. I’m looking forward to getting to train with the team. I think I’m going to get so much better.”
He did admit that as much as he’s looking forward to being with his new team, the race at Pan Am still lingers.
“Both things are on my mind,” he said. “I’m ready to look ahead but I don’t forget easily. I’ll definitely get over it. But for some reason, it’s a tough one. I don’t fall on the water barrier ever. I felt like it was avoidable. I just wanted that chance. I know that it would have been the most awesome thing even being head-to-head down that last straightaway.