Gophers junior Obsa Ali won the 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday night at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., becoming the 14th national champion in the men’s track and field program.
Ali claimed the program’s first national championship in the steeplechase by breaking his own school record, clocking 8 minutes, 32.23 seconds. He took the lead during the bell lap and recorded Minnesota’s best finish in the event at the NCAA meet. The All-America broke Don Timm’s nearly 47-year-old school record at the NCAA West Preliminary last month.
“I still can’t believe it. I remember last year, I was watching this race from the stands. I was very disappointed, and [Coach Steve Plasencia] actually made me come back to watch it. I knew I didn’t want to have that feeling again this year,” Ali said.
“[This year], I just took it race by race, made the finals, and I won. ”
Ali is the first Gopher to win a national championship since Luca Wieland won the indoor heptathlon in 2015 and the first to win an outdoor title since Adam Steele claimed the 400-meter championship in 2003.
Ali, who began running the steeplechase just over a year ago, also won the Big Ten championship in the event in May.
Gophers junior Ayesha Champagnie was in 13th place after the first four events of the heptathlon Friday at the NCAA women’s meet in Eugene, Ore.
Champagnie’s best finish of the day was a third-place showing in the heptathlon shot put with a mark of 13.59 meters (44 feet, 7 inches). She ran 14.03 seconds for the 100 hurdles to place 17th and took 21st in high jump by clearing 1.63m (5-4¼). She concluded her day by running 24.89 in the 200 meters, ranking 13th. She has 3,409 total points, with the long jump, javelin and 800 meters set for Saturday.
Also Saturday, Emma Spagnola races in the 400-meter hurdles final, Heta Tuuri and Ashley Ramacher compete in the high jump and Agnes Esser competes in the discus.