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Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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USA World Championship Drought Continues

When 3 Americans – led by American record holder Evan Jager –advanced to the men’s 3000 meter steeplechase final, United States hopes rose. Might this finally be the gathering where a USA athlete becomes the first American steeplechaser to capture a world championship medal? Kenya – which considers the steeplechase to be its own private fiefdom – had advanced 4 athletes of its own. And they had very different ideas.

The championship race got underway cautiously as athletes and others watched for clues of possible team tactics from the Kenyans. Meanwhile, Jager – who, with the help of his coach Pascal Dobert, had prepared thoroughly for a rigorous championship battle with the Kenyans – quickly positioned himself close to the front where he could react promptly and effectively to any quickly-initiated pace changes. The month before, a homestretch fall over the final barrier in Paris had snatched from Jager a sure DL victory over last year's #1 ranked steepler Kenyan Jarius Birech. Could this final be Jager's redemption?

19-year old Consesius Kipruto brought the finalists through 2K in a measured 5:36.77. Shortly thereafter the real racing began. At the bell, Jager was at the front, followed by a flock of Kenyans poised to strike. Shortly after the pace quickened around the first turn, the Kenyans attacked on the final backstretch. Displaying incredible speed over the barriers, all four Africans powered by an overwhelmed and disbelieving Jager. It was over. All that remained was for the Kenyans to sort out the medals in the final sprint. Ezekiel Kemboi [8.11.28] hit the line first to claim his fourth consecutive World Championship steeple gold and his 7th consecutive world championship steeplechase medal. The young Kipruto [8:12.38] won the silver while Brimin Kipruto out battled Birech for the bronze.

The American Olympians staggered in. Dan Huling [8:14.39] finished 5th by passing a disheartened Jager [8:15.47] – who finished 6th – in the final furlong. Afterward, a disappointed Donn Cabral [10th in 8:24.94] admitted, “It’s the most I’ve underperformed in a big race in a long time.” Huling took little joy in his surprising 5th place finish. “I really wanted Evan to get a medal. He probably spent a lot more energy to try and get a medal today. He probably had a better race than me.” Jager knows there is more work to do. “Those guys are so freaking tough over the last lap, running extremely fast over barriers,” declared AR holder about his Kenyan conquerors. “There’s a reason why the Kenyans have won every single steeple World Championships they’ve competed in the last 12-13 years. So it’s really tough. I have to figure out something for myself. I’ll go back to the drawing board.”

RunBlogRun Some photographs on this site have been reproduced with permission from runblogrun.com.