EUGENE, Ore. -- Duncan Hamilton and Benji Phillips got the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships started off on the right foot on Wednesday.
Hamilton, a Bozeman native in his sophomore season at Montana State, set the Bobcats' program record in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, crossing the finish line in 8 minutes, 31.99 seconds in Wednesday's first heat at legendary Hayward Field. The previous school record was 8:33.35 set by Lyle Weese in 2003. Weese is now Montana State's Dale Kennedy director of track and field.
Hamilton placed fourth in his heat to advance to the final, which guarantees him All-American status. The final is scheduled to run on Friday.
Duncan is ON TO THE FINALS!!!— Montana State TF/XC (@MSUBobcatsTFXC) June 10, 2021
Hamilton's time of 8:31.99 breaks a school record held by Coach Weese as he places 4th in his heat and he had the 4th overall time! You can See Duncan on ESPN2 on Friday, already with All-America accolades, go for a national championship! pic.twitter.com/gXiMpCzfUD
There were two heats of the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Wednesday, with the top five runners in each heat advancing to the final. The next two fastest times, regardless of heat, also advance to the final to complete a 12-runner field. Hamilton's heat was the faster of the two heats and was paced by Bennett Pascoe of Arkansas State, who crossed the finish line in 8:31.72. The second heat was won by Ky Robinson of Stanford with a time of 8:36.29.
North Dakota State's Benji Phillips, meanwhile, secured an All-American finish in the men's javelin Wednesday night. The Glasgow native, who won the Summit League championship with a personal-best throw of 246 feet, 11.5 inches earlier this spring, placed eighth at the NCAA Championships with a throw of 234-3. Tzuriel Pedigo of LSU won the event with a personal-best throw of 252-7.
Soon after earning his All-American finish, Phillips earned another prestigious honor: the NCAA Elite 90 Award, which recognizes the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average at the NCAA Championships. Phillips has maintained a 4.0 cumulative GPA with a double major in exercise science and psychology. Phillips recently completed his fourth year at NDSU, but he is still just a sophomore athletically after redshirting the 2018 season and having the 2020 season canceled.
Huge news in Eugene --— NDSU Track & Field (@NDSUTrackField) June 10, 2021
Right after he took 8th in the javelin to earn first-team All-America honors, Benji Phillips was named the 𝗡𝗖𝗔𝗔 𝗘𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝟵𝟬 winner!
Benji's 4.0 cumulative GPA is the highest of any man competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. pic.twitter.com/q2d6Exa0Vg
The Treasure State has two more athletes competing at the NCAA Championships, which run through Sunday. Billings Senior alum Christina Aragon, now a senior at Stanford, will run in the women's 1,500-meter semifinal on Thursday, and Lucy Corbett, another Bozeman native at Montana State, is competing in the women's high jump on Saturday.