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.
"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.