CollegeMontana State Bobcats


Montana State's Rob McManus qualifies for U.S. Olympic Trials in steeplechase

Rob McManus MSU.jpg
Posted at 12:44 PM, Apr 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-13 15:03:19-04

(Editor's note: Montana State athletics release.)

LOS ANGELES — Chasing warm weather and fast times, the Montana State track and field teams took advantage of the first two legs of a weekend trip to Southern California to deliver big marks at three meets over the first two days of their three-day stay in L.A.

A big Saturday still awaits, with sprints, jumps, throws, and distance all in action in both Azusa and Long Beach.

The Bobcats delivered on their national steeplechase reputation as "Steeple U" on Thursday, living up to the billing as USTFCCCA's top men's steeplechase unit in NCAA Division I.

Rob McManus, a junior from Cashmere, Wash., clocked an 8:29.58 at the Bryan Clay Invitational to finish fifth overall and record the third-fastest time in NCAA Division I this year. The mark was not only the third-fastest time in school history, but also qualified McManus for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in June, pushing him under the qualifying time of 8:30.00 by two one-hundredths of a second.

Levi Taylor was right behind his running mate, finishing seventh overall in 8:30.04, just narrowly missing out on the Olympic Trials standard by four one-hundreds of a second. Taylor, a senior from Laurel, Montana, now owns the fourth-fastest time in NCAA Division I this season.

"With Rob running under the Olympic Trials mark, he officially has the standard to get into the U.S. Olympic Trials, so that's really exciting," Dale Kennedy Director of Track and Field Lyle Weese said. "Levi ran just off of that, but he's likely to run faster this year—even if he doesn't, that mark should get him in because they take more than just those that get the standard."

Harvey Cramb (33rd), Sam Ells (40th), and Owen Smith (48th) all finished in top-50 of the event on Thursday.

"Those were really exciting races," Weese said of Thursday's steeplechase heats. "We tend to run really well towards the end of the year—regionals, NCAA's--so to see Rob and Levi run this well is certainly really exciting."

On Friday at the Bryan Clay Invite, sophomore Jada Zorn posted a personal-best time of 2:10.10 in the 800 meters, the sixth-fastest time in school history and the second-fastest time by a Bobcat since 2017.

Later on in the evening, the distance duo of Grace Gilbreth and Kendra Lusk turned in a pair of lightning-quick 5,000 meter races, earning spots in the program's all-time top five.

Gilbreth, a Bozeman High product, crossed the line in 16:29.44, the fourth-fastest mark in MSU history, while Lusk, a native of Spring Creek, Nevada, finished in 16:30.26, the fifth-fastest time ever by a Bobcat.

On the men's side, less than 24 hours after he ran one of the fastest 3,000 meter steeplechase races in the country this spring, Levi Taylor turned around and ran the best 5,000 meter race of his life, crossing the line in 13:56.96. That mark moves the Laurel native up to No. 7 in program history, right behind his head coach, Lyle Weese, who ran 13:50.33 in 2003.

In a race that got underway at 10:15 p.m. PT/11:15 p.m. MT, Kalispell native Ben Perrin turned in one of the more impressive races of his illustrious career, finishing fourth in an ultra-talented heat in the men's 5,000 meters. Perrin's time of 13:30.73 was just off the school record time of 13:30.50 set by Perrin's former teammate Duncan Hamilton in 2022.

Perrin's mark is now the ninth-fastest time in NCAA Division I this season, and would have been the No. 1 mark heading into the weekend.

After Perrin, Kyla Christopher-Moody got another crack at the women's 5,000 meters and didn't disappoint, smashing her personal-best by 22 seconds and moving up to No. 2 all-time in MSU history with a gritty seventh place finish in the final heat. The graduate transfer's mark of 16:08.18 is shy of only Camila Noe for best race ever by a Bobcat in the event.