Whitehorse’s Kieran Halliday stepped foot on a sweltering Alabama track on Saturday with the goal of beating higher-ranked runners.
He did it with time to spare.
The 16th-ranked contender sped to a 14th-place finish in the men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championship in Gulf Shores.
“I had an amazing time at my first nationals. Always nice to help out the team and gain experience,” said Halliday in an email to the News. “It was hotter than 30 degrees on the track. And I’m not too worried about the time since it was a championship race and those are about placement.”
Halliday, who was representing the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, finished with a time of nine minutes and 59.47 seconds at the 65th annual National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championships.
The 20-year-old second-year student qualified for the championship at the California-Irvine’s Steve Scott Invitational in April. He placed fifth and made the B standard with a personal best of 9:31.41, just under the cutoff of 9:32.00.
Thunderbirds teammate John Gay of Kelowna, B.C., took first at 9:12.15 on Saturday.
“I was super happy I finished well. My teammates supported me the entire race. I am so thankful they were there to support me and I did my best to help them whenever I can,” said Halliday.
“I am very proud of John. The guys’ team scored 28 points and had six All Americans. The girls’ scored 21 points and five All Americans.”
Halliday decided to pursue the steeplechase after an eighth-place finish in Grade 11 at the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships a few years ago.
He went on to be the first Yukoner ever to race the steeplechase at the Canada Summer Games in 2013 where he placed 12th with a time of 10:02.02. Last summer he took fifth at the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games at 9:42.58.
Before the NAIA national Halliday claimed ninth with a time of 9:40.26 at the Willamette University West Coast Invitational in Oregon two weeks ago.
Halliday has also been a member of the Thunderbirds cross-country team the last two seasons.
He has represented Yukon at seven major Games, including the Arctic Winter Games, in athletics, tennis, soccer, snowshoeing and snowshoe biathlon.
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