Carl Blackhurst of Haines has come close to winning the NCAA Division II 3,000-meter steeplechase title before, but something always seemed to keep him just short of the crown.-->
Thursday, May 24, 2001
Cruisin': Adams State runner Carl Blackhurst of Haines, right, is the top seed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase held today at the NCAA Division II national championships in Edwardsville, Ill.
Photo courtesy of Adams State College
Blackhurst (steeple)chasing an NCAA title
Haines runner the top seed in this weekend's NCAA Division II national championships
By CHARLES BINGHAM
THE JUNEAU EMPIRE
Carl Blackhurst of Haines has come close to winning the NCAA Division II 3,000-meter steeplechase title before, but something always seemed to keep him just short of the crown.
A senior with an English-history double major at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., Blackhurst has earned six all-American honors in cross-country running and track during his college career. His best finishes have been in 1999, when he took third in the steeplechase as a sophomore, and last year's fifth-place finish which came despite missing most of the season with a foot injury.
Now, as Blackhurst heads into his final college meet, he'd like to close out his career with a national title.
Blackhurst is the top seed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase entering this weekend's NCAA Division II national track and field championships at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, having run the 10th-fastest time ever recorded by a Division II athlete (8 minutes, 42.93 seconds) during a meet at Stanford on May 13. Blackhurst finished 0.63 seconds behind teammate Jason Hubbard during the Stanford race, but Hubbard is the two-time defending national champion in the 5,000 meters and won't run the steeplechase at nationals.
"This is the first year I've been able to put in a full season and not be injured," Blackhurst said. "It all seems to be working out. Coach (Damon Martin) and I felt before the season that I was ready to run in the 8-low-30s this year, so I'm not too impressed by the 8:42 even though it's a personal record. I ran passive in the first half of the race because I wasn't sure if I'd last. If I run more aggressively in the first half of the race I think I can go faster."
The steeplechase in one of the most unique track and field events, as runners have to make six jumps over water barriers during the race and hurdle over four other barriers per lap (32 barriers total). These barriers aren't designed to tip over like the normal hurdles, but are heavy-duty wood construction that will leave bruises and welts if the runner crashes into them. The steeplechase preliminaries are Thursday night, with the finals on Friday night.
Even with Hubbard sitting out the steeplechase, Blackhurst will have two teammates in the event Julio Serratos (seeded fourth) and Jose Merino (seeded sixth). Blackhurst may need their help since the second-seeded runner in the event is three-time defending national champion Vladimir Golias of Central Missouri State. Golias, who ran for the Russian Olympic team and was a finalist in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, has only run an 8:51 this season but has run faster in previous years.
Blackhurst said having Golias in the field will help take some of the pressure off his being the event's top-seeded runner. Blackhurst said over the years he thinks the runners in the event have conceded the title to Golias by running a slow pace early in the race, then watching as Golias used his deadly kick over the final 800 meters to claim victory. He said his strategy will have Golias in mind.
"I'm going to try and take him early," Blackhurst said. "I'll run about three laps with the pack, and then I'll make my big move. My big move is to try and run that last mile in 4:25. He's a sit-and-kick guy, but I know I'm stronger than him because I've beaten him in cross country. The mistake everyone's made is they let him run off them early in the race, and his kick over the last 800 meters is too strong."
This year is the first with preliminary races in the steeplechase, and Blackhurst said that will also affect his strategy. Blackhurst posted a time in the 1,500 meters that would have ranked eighth at the national meet, but he decided to skip the 1,500 and concentrate on the steeplechase. Blackhurst said he plans to only go as fast as he needs to in the preliminary in order to advance to the finals.
"I'd run a 9:25 or a 9:30 if they'd let me, and if it's 9:00 to 9:10 I wouldn't complain," he said.
While Blackhurst's senior outdoor track season has gone quite well, his indoor season was one of close misses. Blackhurst said he was constantly sick for about a month-and-a-half, then he missed the national qualifying time in the 1,500 by just 0.10 seconds. He also thought he'd qualify easily in the 5,000, but he was sick. And, at the conference meet several runners beat the national qualifying time for the 5,000 only to find out later one of the officials miscounted the laps and the race ended up being one lap short.
"I had a bummer of an indoor season," Blackhurst said.
But the outdoor season has more than compensated. Blackhurst's 8:42.93 not only earned him the top seed in the NCAA Division II national meet, but it also won him a spot in the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 21-24 in Eugene, Ore. Blackhurst said he plans to graduate next fall, then he'd like to concentrate on track full time for a year or two.
"I'm still pretty young for the steeplechase," said Blackhurst, who's 23 years old. "I'd like to take another shot at making the Olympic Trials."
TRACK AND FIELD
Western Washington University sophomore Shawn Miller (Juneau-Douglas) took second place in the 10,000 meters at the Pacific West Conference Championships held April 26-May 5 at Western Oregon University. Miller's time was 33 minutes, 8.37 seconds, which was just behind the winning time of 33:06.97 posted by Adam Hall of Humboldt State.
Pacific Lutheran University freshman Breea DeSloover (Juneau-Douglas) took 11th place in the 5,000 meters at the Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships held May 4-5 at Willamette University. DeSloover's time was 19:53.54, which was off her season-best time in the event of 19:34.79 (third-best for the Lutes). DeSloover's other top times this year were 2:38.96 in the 800 meters (fifth for PLU), 5:17.13 in the 1,500 (fourth for PLU) and 11:22.56 in the 3,000 (third for PLU).
Willamette University senior twins Marika and Tansy Middag (Ketchikan) also placed well in the Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships held May 4-5 at Willamette. Tansy Middag took eighth place in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles with a time of 1:08.63, her only event at the meet. Marisa Middag took second place in the pole vault in with a leap of 10 feet, 6 3/4 inches and tied for eighth place in the high jump with a leap of 4-10 1/4.
Iowa State University senior third baseman Rob Conway (Juneau-Douglas) did his part to extend the life of the Cyclones' baseball existence. Iowa State, which is dropping baseball after this season after 110 years, reached the Big 12 playoffs for the first time in team history and Conway drove in the game-tying and game-winning runs in the ninth inning as Iowa State beat Baylor 6-5 on May 17. But the Cyclones were eliminated the next day by Oklahoma State, 17-4, despite a two-hit, two-RBI performance from Conway. For the season, Conway batted .319 with a team-high 34 runs scored, 67 hits, three triple and 49 RBIs. Conway also ranked second on the Cyclones in batting average, doubles (13) and homers (four), plus he was second in slugging average (.463) and on-base percentage (.365).
Long Beach State University sophomore left-handed pitcher Chad Bentz (Juneau-Douglas) will be playing in the 64-team NCAA Division I national championships this weekend as the 49ers play Texas Tech on Friday night in the sub-regional at Cal State-Fullerton. Bentz finished the regular season with a 2-3 record, 7.54 ERA, one save and 61 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings. Bentz will be one of three college pitchers from Los Angeles-area schools featured next week in a baseball draft preview running on the Major League Baseball Web site (http://www.mlb.com).
Grinnell College senior first baseman-third baseman-right-handed pitcher Joel Cladouhos (Juneau-Douglas) was selected the Pioneers' team MVP and earned all-Midwest Conference-Southern Division honors at first base this season. Cladouhos led the Pioneers with a .386 batting average, 39 hits, a season-record 11 doubles and 30 RBIs. Cladouhos also hit two home runs and scored 16 times. As a pitcher, Cladouhos tied for the team lead with five victories as he went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA (second on the team), one save, and 39 strikeouts in 53 innings.
Mendocino College sophomore third baseman Wade Walter (Juneau-Douglas) hit .293 with eight doubles, one triple, one homer, 28 RBIs and 19 runs this season. He had two teammates from Southeast, freshman outfielder Robert Ridgeway (Juneau-Douglas) who had no hits in seven at bats but scored two runs, and freshman pitcher Paul Claasen (Ketchikan) who had a 5.63 ERA with no record and four strikeouts in eight innings.
Biola University sophomore outfielder Kara Lindley (Juneau-Douglas) finished the season with a .183 batting average, nine runs and nine RBIs for the Eagles.
Syracuse University junior Rachael Kirchhoff (Juneau-Douglas) is a member of the school's varsity eight crew, which is ranked No. 6 in the nation by the U.S. Rowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association. The team earned its third berth in the five-year history of the NCAA Rowing Championships, which will be held this weekend on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Ga. The national meet starts Friday and runs through Sunday. This season Syracuse posted an undefeated record until posting its best-ever showing of third place (behind No. 1 Brown and No. 3 Princeton) in the Eastern Sprints on May 13 in Camden, N.J. Kirchhoff usually rows in the fifth seat in the varsity eight boat.
Oregon State University junior Andy Dietrick (Juneau-Douglas) has been rowing on the school's junior varsity eight boat this year after spending much of last season in the varsity eight boat, until a back injury dropped him to the JV eight. Last year, as the school neared the U.S. Rowing/Collegiate Rowing national championships, Dietrick was moved out of the JV eight boat and into a varsity four boat that ended up placing third in the national meet. OSU, which is ranked No. 12 nationally, recently started running a varsity four boat at some regattas, but it's Web site doesn't list which rowers are in the boat.
Dartmouth College sophomore Katherine Rue (Juneau-Douglas) had been stroking the school's third varsity four boat, but was promoted to stroking the second varsity four boat for the Eastern Sprints on May 13 in Camden, N.J. The boat took sixth place in its race, one of two sixth-place finishes posted by Dartmouth's women's team at the meet.
Wisconsin University freshman middle hitter-rightside hitter Anya Carlson-Van Dort (Juneau-Douglas) joined the Badgers when they left last Friday on a two-week tour of Italy, Switzerland and France. Carlson-Van Dort was a redshirt walk-on last fall as Wisconsin took second place to Nebraska in the NCAA Division I national championships. She still has four years of eligibility left and survived the spring season cut-downs.
University of Montana freshman lineman James White (Juneau-Douglas), who was a redshirt walk-on this past fall as Montana took second place in the NCAA Division I-AA national championships, has moved to second on the team's depth chart in two positions after the Grizzlies' spring camp. White, a 6-foot-2, 285-pounder who still has four years of eligibility remaining, is listed as second string at center and right guard.
The Juneau Empire's College Corner feature is compiled by sports editor Charles Bingham from college Web sites and tips from local coaches and readers. College Corner runs about once a month during the school year. If you know of a college athlete from Southeast Alaska who should be included in a future College Corner feature, please fax the information to 1-907-586-3028 (attention sports) or you can e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org (please no text attachments).