In his first international steeplechase race ever, Olympics-bound Evan Jager of Algonquin set an American record.
Jager, a Jacobs High School grad who now trains in Portland, Ore., competed in the Herculis meet in Monaco Friday night in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and finished third with a time of 8:06.81, breaking the U.S. record by 2.01 seconds. The time was exactly 11 seconds faster than he ran last month to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
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"I thought it (the U.S. record) might have been a possibility, judging on how workouts have been going and how I felt at USA's," Jager said in a video interview shortly after the race. "This is my first international race with a pacer going out really, really hard. I didn't know exactly what to expect, how hard I could push at the beginning and still maintain myself through the rest of the race. We had a good race plan."
According to The Associated Press, Jager finished behind two Kenyans, Conseslus Kipruto (8:03.49) and Paul Koech (8:03.90) and just ahead of two other runners from Kenya, Bernard Mbugua Nganga (8:09.23) and Jairus Kipchoge Birech (8:10.62).
The previous American mark was set six years ago by Daniel Lincoln in 8:08.02, which broke a record set in 1985.
The 23-year-old Jager qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London by winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Jager, a 2007 graduate of Jacobs, won that event a time of 8:17.40 seconds to finish ahead of Princeton graduate and NCAA champion Donn Cabral (8:19.81).
Here is a link to the video interview with Jager after he broke the record.