Imagine running 3,000 meters while clearing five barriers and one water jump all in less than 10 minutes.
Missouri sophomore Matt Noonan will do just that in the men’s steeplechase Friday and Saturday at the NCAA Mideast Regional track meet at Bernie Moore Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. Noonan will join 23 Tigers athletes competing in 28 events.
Noonan finished 21st in the steeplechase on March 27 at the Stanford Invitational in 9 minutes, 5.68 seconds, the 19th best time in the regional. Noonan said he wants to finish in the top 10, but he will have to pace himself to succeed.
“Don’t go out to hard,” he said. “When you start dying, you’re gone. Let the pack do the work.”
The regional meet is a chance for athletes to qualify for the NCAA Championships on June 9-12 in Austin, Texas. The top five finishers in each event at the regional qualify for the NCAA meet. The next best two to four marks from around the country will also have a chance to qualify.
Missouri is the only Big 12 Conference school competing in this region. National champion Louisiana State is hosting the meet, which also includes several teams from the Big Ten and SEC.
Last year at the regional meet, the women finished 14th and the men 11th. Jared Wilmes, Missouri’s distance coach, said he isn’t concerned with team placement and wants to focus on each athlete’s performances. He said he wants his athletes to “go out and compete hard.”
Sophomore Ashley Patten has the ninth best time in the nation and fifth best in regional in the women’s 800 meters at 2:05.43. Patten said she plans to approach the meet with a positive attitude and predicts many personal bests for the Tigers.
“I try and come out here to do the best I can,” Patten said.
Senior Holly Scherder will add depth for the Tigers in the women’s hammer throw, where she has the third best mark in the regional. She holds the school record in the event at 199 feet, 4 inches.
Noonan said he is trying to take a relaxed attitude.
“It’s just running,” he said. “If I can remember that I don’t get too nervous.”
Other MU athletes to watch for include senior Janae Strickland, who holds the school record in the women’s shot put at 55-6 1/4. Senior Gary File has the fifth best mark in the regional in men’s javelin at 218-1.