PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Senior Scott MacPherson won the championship steeplechase Thursday night at the Penn Relays Distance Carnival. MacPherson’s victory is the first for Arkansas at the Penn Relays since the Razorbacks won the 4xMile title in 2006.
"Penn Relays is a great place to run the steeplechase," MacPherson said. "The fans show great support, especially by the water jump. Every time I race I’m trying to improve my time and my technique going over the hurdles. This win feels great and it’s a big confidence boost as the SEC and NCAA Championships get closer."
MacPherson won the championship 3,000-meter steeplechase in a time of 8:44.64. MacPherson took the lead from the start of the race and never relinquished. He took the tape with a 50-meter lead on the second-place finisher. His time is a personal best, is an improved SEC leader and ranks fourth nationally. He also qualified for the USA Championships in June with his sub-8:45 time. His time is also an improvement on his No. 9 mark in school history.
"Both our steeplechasers ran well tonight," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "Scott gets stronger every time he runs and I’m so happy he got this win. Rick (Elliott) had a great steeplechase debut. He’s showing real promise in that event and I think he’ll score in the event at the conference meet. Rio (Reina) made huge strides in the 10,000 meters and ran really late Thursday night. Under the circumstances, he showed great toughness and I’m impressed by the effort he gave in that grueling 10K race."
Freshman Rick Elliott competed in his first collegiate steeplechase Thursday night. Elliott, similar to MacPherson’s style, shot right to lead of the collegiate heat and held the top spot for 2,000 meters. He fell to second with two laps to go and ended up finishing fifth overall with a clocking of 9:12.29. His time ranks fourth in the SEC and second among SEC freshman.
Junior Rio Reina ran a solid 10,000 meters to earn a ninth-place finish. He clocked a personal best of 30:15.99 to shave nearly two minutes of his previous best of 31:50.05. His time ranks eighth in the SEC.
The Razorbacks will continue competition at Penn Relays Friday at 9 a.m. with the 400-meter hurdles. For more information, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com or thepennrelays.com.