Gophers' Obsa Ali Wins NCAA Steeplechase Championship

Gophers junior Obsa Ali reacts to winning an NCAA championship. Photo: ESPN
Gophers junior Obsa Ali reacts to winning an NCAA championship.

June 08, 2018 09:44 PM

Obsa Ali capped the 2018 track & field season in dramatic fashion on Friday night, winning the 3,000 meter steeplechase at the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships to become the University of Minnesota men’s track & field program’s 14th national champion. 
 
Ali claimed the program’s first national championship in the steeplechase by breaking his own school record at 8:32.23 on Friday night at Hayward Field, taking the lead during the bell lap and recording Minnesota’s best finish in the event at the NCAA meet. The All-American broke Don Timm’s nearly 47-year old school record at the NCAA West Preliminary last month. 
 
“I still can’t believe it. I remember last year, I was watching this race from the stands. I was very disappointed, and (Coach Plasencia) actually made me come back to watch it. I knew I didn’t want to have that feeling again this year,” Ali said. “(This year), I just took it race by race, made the finals, and I won. I still can’t believe…I still can’t believe it.” 
 
A native of Richfield, Minn., Ali is the first Gopher to win a national championship since Luca Wieland won the indoor heptathlon in 2015 and the first to win an outdoor title since Adam Steele claimed the 400 meter championship in 2003. 
 
Ali, who began running the steeplechase just over a year ago, also claimed the 2018 Big Ten championship in the event in May.  
 
“I’m tremendously proud of the season Obsa Ali has had this year, and he has so much to be proud of,” Minnesota Director of Men’s Track & Field and Cross Country Steve Plasencia said. “National champions don’t come around very often, and it has been incredible to see the growth in Obsa’s ability since picking up the steeplechase last May. His progress has been simply phenomenal, and it has been fun to watch.” 
 
Meanwhile, All-American Ryan Lockard closed out his collegiate career by tying for 18th in the NCAA high jump on Friday night. Competing in rainy conditions, Lockard cleared 2.08 meters (6-09.75 ft.).
 

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