June 9, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa--In a race that was tight from start to finish freshman Samuel McEntee (Perth, Australia) came in ninth in the finals of the 1500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium on Saturday morning. McEntee finished strong over the final 400 meters and registered a time of 3:46.41.
Similar to the national semifinal race on Thursday evening McEntee established a position on the rail early in today's race. For most of the race he was blocked from getting towards the front of the pack but during the final lap made a move towards the outside to try and move up through the pack. Over the final 400 meters McEntee surged four spots to wind up ninth overall.
McEntee went out with a split of 49.26 over the first 300 meters and then ran 1:02.83 in his first full lap around the track. He then picked up steam over the final two laps, closing with splits of 58.74 and 55.59 in the final two laps.
In a sign of how tight the race was throughout there was less than one second separating the entire field of 12 runners at the start of the bell lap. German Fernandez of Oklahoma State took an early lead and remained in front until that final lap. As the bell sounded he had a time of 2:40.97 through 1100 meters to lead the field and McEntee was at the back of the pack in 2:41.82.
McEntee wound up beating Fernandez by just over a second in the final 400 meters and finished one spot ahead of him, with all 12 finishing spots being determined over the last 100-200 meters. Even at the front of the pack the top two finishers - national champion Andrew Bayer of Indiana and runner-up Miles Batty of BYU - were separated by a mere one-hundredth of a second.
The winning time for Bayer was 3:43.82 and he just barely nudged Batty (3:43.83) at the finish line to finish first. Ryan Hill of North Carolina State was third (3:44.24) and was followed by Michael Hammond of Virginia Tech (3:44.47), Rob Finnerty of Wisconsin (3:44.53), Rich Peters of Boston University (3:44.66), Duncan Phillips of Arkansas (3:44.77) and Erik van Ingen of Binghamton (3:45.00) to round out the top eight finishers that earned a spot on the awards podium.
McEntee came in ninth and was ahead of Fernandez (3:46.62), Lawi Lalang of Arizona (3:46.82) and Chris O'Hare of Tulsa (3:51.64).
In his first collegiate outdoor season McEntee established himself as a consistent performer on a national level. Beginning with the national first round of the 1500 meters at the NCAA East Regional two weeks ago, he was an automatic qualifier for the quarterfinals, semifinals and today's championship race.
McEntee also ran the 10th fastest 1500 meters ever in NCAA competition with a time of 3:36.81 at the Swarthmore Last Chance Meet last month. He made headlines during the indoor season when he became the 34th Villanovan to run a sub-four minute mile and also anchored the Wildcats to a title in the distance medley relay at the Goodwill Games.
1500 METERS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE
Andrew Bayer, Indiana - 3:43.82
Miles Batty, BYU - 3:43.83
Ryan Hill, North Carolina State - 3:44.24
Michael Hammond, Virginia Tech - 3:44.47
Rob Finnerty, Wisconsin - 3:44.53
Rich Peters, Boston University - 3:44.66
Duncan Phillips, Arkansas - 3:44.77
Erik van Ingen, Binghamton, - 3:45.00
Samuel McEntee, Villanova - 3:46.41
German Fernandez, Oklahoma State - 3:46.62
Lawi Lalang, Arizona - 3:46.82
Chris O'Hare, Tulsa - 3:51.64