June 6, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. - For the second straight season sophomore Sam McEntee (Perth, Australia) will run in the finals of the 1500 meters at the NCAA Championships. He came in second in his semifinal heat at Hayward Field on Thursday afternoon with a time of 3:41.32 to guarantee himself a spot in the finals on Saturday afternoon. McEntee made a terrific move with less than 200 meters left to secure his spot among the 12 qualifiers for the final.
The time of 3:41.32 for McEntee is his second fastest in a Villanova shirt and trails only the mark of 3:36.81 he recorded last year, which still ranks 10th best outdoors in NCAA history. McEntee has been an automatic qualifier in each national round of the 1500 meters so far this season, including in the first round and quarterfinals at the NCAA East Regional two weeks ago.
In his semifinal heat McEntee was in ninth place at the start of the bell lap but had created a spot for himself to make a move on the outside. The pace being set by the leading picked up in a big way with 300 meters to go and McEntee looked strong as he slid through the pack towards the front. When all was said and done the top seven finishers in McEntee's heat were separated by less than three-quarters of a second at the finish line. The five automatic qualifiers from the heat had a spread of a mere 0.32 seconds.
McEntee moved towards a crowded front of the pack with less than 200 meters left and pulled even with the front seven with only 100 meters to go. It was at that point that he claimed a spot in the top five and with fewer than 100 meters remaining the front five runners formed a virtually perfect horizontal line. McEntee continued making his surge down the final straightaway to wind up in second place at the finish, just 0.11 seconds off the winning pace set by Mac Fleet from Oregon (3:41.21).
Rounding out the top five in McEntee's heat were Zach Perkins of Air Force (3:41.46), Austin Mudd of Wisconsin (3:41.47) and Ryan Hill of North Carolina State (3:41.53). McEntee ran in the first of the two semifinal heats and his heat also produced the two "on-time" qualifiers for the final in John Simons of Minnesota (3:41.73) and Patrick Casey of Oklahoma (3:41.93).
In the second semifinal heat of the 1500 meters sophomore Rob Denault (Aurora, Ont.) came in eighth with a time of 3:44.65. He was just half a second short of a top five spot in the heat and a place in the final after finishing strong in the final 250 meters.
Denault was in 10th place after the first 300 meters and was in ninth place at the start of the bell lap, although he had moved up to fifth with 800 meters to go before the pack began to stretch out. After the first 800 meters the pack began to bunch up near the front and there was little change near the front before the final lap.
With less than 200 meters remaining Denault began a steady move through the pack but was unable to close in on the top five. Riley Masters of Oklahoma won the heat with a time of 3:42.84 and was followed by Andrew Bayer of Indiana (3:43.00), Jeremy Rae of Notre Dame (3:43.19), Robby Creese of Penn State (3:43.55) and Patrick McGregor of Texas (3:44.15) to round out the five automatic qualifiers for the final.
McEntee will race for the national championship in the 1500 meters on Saturday afternoon at 2:31 p.m. on the West Coast (5:31 p.m. Eastern time). The race can be seen live on ESPNU as well as with the WatchESPN app.
NOTES: Last season McEntee registered a ninth place finish in the final of the 1500 meters at the NCAA Championships in his first outdoor appearance at the national meet ... This is the third straight year and the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Wildcats will have an athlete in the finals of the 1500 meters ... Villanova has produced six national champions in the event ... Denault made his outdoor debut at the NCAA Championships this week and previously earned All-BIG EAST honors with a third place finish in the 1500 meters at the conference meet last month ... He also recorded a personal best time of 3:41.58 in the national quarterfinals at the NCAA East Regional.