It was a record-breaking night to remember for the Montana State track and field team as the NCAA Outdoor Championships kicked off on Wednesday in Eugene, Oregon.
The Bobcats had already set a program-best by sending five athletes to this year's championship meet, but they proved on Wednesday that just getting there isn't enough for these standout athletes.
Things got started in the Men's 3,000 Meter Steeplechase as both Duncan Hamilton and Levi Taylor were able to advance through the preliminary races and into Friday night's finals. Taylor, a sophomore out of Laurel, finished sixth in his heat of the steeplechase with a time of 8:30.20. It was not enough to automatically qualify but was good enough for ninth overall to clinch one of the ten spots in Friday's finals and guarantee him All-American status.
Meanwhile Hamilton led wire-to-wire in his heat, clocking in with a new Montana State record time of 8:23.13 which is the best collegiate time this season. The Bozeman native told ESPN's John Anderson after the race that part of his dominant performance was due to his determination to help Taylor advance to the finals.
"I was really trying to drag my teammate to finals too," said Hamilton. "He was in the first heat so I kind of had that in mind to try and make some people start a little too fast so my teammate could get in cause he was sixth in the first heat. And he did he get a little qualifier so I'm stoked on that. (He) ran a fast time so it was a good day."
So the Bobcats will have two representatives for Friday night's steeplechase finals, which is set to get underway at 7:24 PM mountain time and will air on ESPN2.
But they won't be the only All-American Bobcats competing for a nation title on Friday. Also on Wednesday evening, MSU senior Drake Schneider set a new school record in the Men's 400 Meter Hurdles by clocking in at 49.08 seconds to take second place in the third and final heat. That mark was also good enough to finish second place overall and land him in Friday night's finals which are set to take place at 8:27 PM mountain time and will air on ESPN2.
Also competing on Wednesday was Bobcat freshman Colby Wilson, who took 20th out of 24 competitors in the Men's Pole Vault. Wilson cleared 16 feet, 10 and 3/4 inches which is 9 inches below his personal best, but a bright future ahead for the freshman from Olympia, Washington.
Yet to compete this week for Montana State is junior Lucy Corbett, making her second straight appearance at outdoor nationals. The Bozeman High product will battle in the women's high jump on Saturday, set to get underway at 3:00 PM mountain time on Saturday, June 11. That event will have a stream available via ESPN3.