Steven Fahy of Stanford Survives Fall, Wins Wild Men’s Steeplechase Final at 2019 NCAA Championships

June 7, 2019

AUSTIN, Tex. — At the end of a wild men’s steeplechase that featured two different leaders falling at each of the final two barriers, Stanford fifth-year senior Steven Fahy earned his first national title despite going down on the last barrier. Fahy quickly got up and managed to hang on for the victory in a seasonal best of 8:38.46. NCAA leader Ryan Smeeton of Oklahoma State was just 5th entering the final water jump but had the best final 150 of anyone in the field to end up second in 8:39.10, with Middle Tennessee State’s Kigen Chemadi third in 8:40.22 as defending champ Obsa Ali of Minnesota was 4th in 8:40.36.

Indiana’s Dan Michalski, the Big 10 runner-up who broke the race open with a move on the penultimate lap, entered the final water jump just ahead of Fahy but totally wiped out and struggled afterwards, finishing 7th in 8:43.48.

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Watch the crazy final 30 seconds of the race below.

1 Steven FAHY SR Stanford 8:38.46 SB
2 Ryan SMEETON SO Oklahoma State 8:39.10
3 Kigen CHEMADI JR Mid. Tenn. State 8:40.22
4 Obsa ALI SR Minnesota 8:40.36
5 Bailey ROTH SR Arizona 8:40.92
6 Alex ROGERS SR Texas 8:43.29
7 Daniel MICHALSKI SR Indiana 8:43.48
8 Matt OWENS SO BYU 8:45.40
9 Nathan MYLENEK JR Iowa 8:49.40
10 Clayson SHUMWAY JR BYU 8:53.45
11 Kenneth ROOKS FR BYU 9:00.53
12 Jacob HESLINGTON JR BYU 9:02.03

Quick Take: Fahy’s NCAA career may not be over yet

Fahy was thrilled to win the NCAA title for Stanford tonight. He’s now got a little family bragging rights as well as he topped the runner-up showing that his brother Darren achieved in the men’s steeplechase in 2017 for Georgetown, but Darren still holds the family PB at 8:31.08 (Steven’s pb is 8:34.52). While Darren opted not to run post-collegiately, Steven said he most definitely wants to run as a pro.

But Steven revealed after the race that his college career may not be over. While he redshirted his freshman year, he also missed the 2018 XC season due to injury, so Fahy expects to be granted a sixth year of eligibility for the fall, during which he hopes Stanford can win the NCAA cross country team title.

As for the race, Steven said that he felt really good going into the final barrier, which he caught with his trail leg. Once down, his only thought was to get up and get to the finish line as fast as possible as the win is what he wanted all season long. Fahy also mentioned how he was in the stands, focusing on NCAAs when the three fastest steeplechase times in the NCAA were put up on his home track at the Payton Jordan meet a month ago.

Fahy did not stay down long

2018 champ Obsa Ali talks after finishing 4th

Last year, he shut it down after NCAAs but he may run USAs this year.

Daniel Michalski didn’t regret his bold move, which ended with a wipeout on the final water jump

Michalski knew he had to do something to try to break free of the kickers, and heading into the final water jump, it looked like his bold move with 500 meters might pay off. But the challenge of the steeple is staying aggressive while still being able to successfully clear each barrier, and Michalski couldn’t do that, going crashing to the ground on the final water jump.

Michalski may not have won tonight but he does have an NCAA title on his resume. He won the DII title for Cedarville in 2017 when he ran 8:44.49.

Quick Take: Kenneth Rooks disappointed tonight but he had a hell of a true freshman campaign

The BYU men had four racers in the 12-person final and managed to score just one point total as they placed 8th, 10th, 11th and 12th. BYU freshman Kenneth Rooks didn’t have a good night as he was 11th in 9:00.53.

After 25-year-old Clayton Young won the men’s 10,000 on Wednesday, much has been made of the fact that many BYU athletes are a lot older than the other competitors in the NCAA as most male BYU runners take a two-year Mormon mission.

That criticism doesn’t apply to Rooks as he graduated HS in 2018. In HS in Washington, he was the WIAA 1A state record holder in the 800m (1:53.56) and also ran 4:11.40 and 9:20.86 for 1600 and 3200. Clearly, he was talented, but 8:36.08 as a true freshman is a whole other level.

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