Tokyo-Bound: Ferlic Makes Team USA in Steeplechase
6/26/2021 11:22:00 AM
// Kyle Terwillegar
EUGENE, Ore. — Five years after winning the NCAA Championships 3,000-meter steeplechase title for the University of Michigan men’s track and field team, distance runner Mason Ferlic achieved his Olympic dream and qualified for Team USA in the event Friday (June 25) at the U.S. Olympic Trials held at the newly renovated Hayward Field.
Ferlic demonstrated remarkable strength and composure over the course of the final lap as he made a surge of his own and later held off a would-be challenger to finish third overall in 8:22.05.
The 2016 NCAA champion became the second Wolverine to clinch a spot on Team USA at the Trials, joining former teammate Steven Bastien, who was second in the decathlon.
Ferlic becomes the third man in school history to qualify for the Olympics in the steeplechase, joining three-time Olympian and 1984 bronze medalist Brian Diemer and Gayle Dull from the 1908 Games.
Like Diemer, Ferlic is coached by former Michigan distance coach Ron Warhurst. This will be the 10th consecutive Olympic Games, dating back to Diemer’s bronze run in 1982, in which a Warhurst-coached athlete will compete.
Running near the front of the race from the early stages, Ferlic found himself in fourth — critically one spot outside of the three-man roster for Tokyo — in a pack of six runners as they took the bell for the final lap.
With 300 meters to go, a group of three including Isaac Updike, Hillary Bor and Benard Keter — the latter two of whom would ultimately finish first and second and will join Ferlic in Japan — opened up a five-meter gap on Ferlic.
Ferlic remained composed, and Updike started to drift back toward him as they approached the final water jump. Updike went over the barrier a step before Ferlic, but Ferlic navigated the jump better and emerged from the water with momentum that carried him past Updike.
In third heading down the homestretch, Ferlic was not yet out of danger. Former Indiana Hoosier Daniel Michalski also passed Updike in the final 100 meters and was making a run at Ferlic and his third-place positioning.
Ferlic found enough of a gear to hold off Michalski after the final land barrier and raised his arms in triumph shortly after crossing the line.
The men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase competition in Tokyo is scheduled to start Friday, July 30, with the first round, and the final will take place Monday, Aug. 2.