McEntee Advances to Finals in 1500 Meters at NCAA Championships
June 7, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa--The final 150 meters of the second semifinal heat in the 1500 meters was a jumbled free-for-all sprint to the finish line and when the dust had settled freshman Samuel McEntee (Perth, Australia) had automatically qualified for the national championship race on Saturday morning by placing fifth in his heat. McEntee crossed the finish line in 3:42.73 in the second of two national semifinal heats to move on to the finals.
The top five finishers in each heat automatically qualified for the finals and the first five runners across the finish line in McEntee's heat were separated by a miniscule sixteen-hundredths of a second. Besides the 10 automatic qualifiers for the finals two other runners advance on time and each of those two spots came from the semifinal heat, giving McEntee no other option than to finish in the top five of his own heat.
Despite a crowded pack of runners McEntee was able to move onto the rail after the first 400 meters of the race but at that point found himself blocked from moving up to the front of the pack. He was in eighth place with 800 meters to go and held the same position entering the bell lap. As he came around the final curve before the homestretch McEntee finally broke free and made a phenomenal final surge to the finish.
Just a few paces from the finish line it looked like McEntee had a chance to finish as high as second in the race. It was not until the leaders had crossed the finish line and the final times appeared on the scoreboard that the final positions were determined, including McEntee securing his position in the finals.
"I am really impressed with tonight's race," Villanova head coach Marcus O'Sullivan said. "That was an incredible race for Sam. During the middle of the race it looked like he was blocked from getting out towards the front and I think with 300 meters to go he knew he was in trouble. At that point you just have to run for it and he made it through."
The national championship race in the 1500 meters takes place at 11:17 a.m. Central time on Saturday morning. McEntee - a sophomore academically who is running his first collegiate outdoor season - ran the 10th fastest time ever in the 1500 meters in NCAA competition (3:36.81) last month at the Swarthmore Last Chance Meet.
"This is great for Sam," O'Sullivan said. "He is really a freshman for the purposes of the outdoor season and he is getting tremendous experience that is going to be invaluable for him as he progresses. I am very happy to see him make it through to the finals."
1500 METERS NATIONAL SEMIFINALS
Semifinal Heat 2
Erik van Ingen, Binghamton - 3:42.57
Qualifiers for the Finals
Ryan Hill, North Carolina State - 3:39.84