Brunnette clinches spot in Saturday's final
LA CROSSE, Wis. – Junior Sam Brunnette (Newport Center, Vt.) finished fifth in heat one of the preliminaries of the 3,000 meter steeplechase to advance to Saturday's finals at the 2018 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on Thursday evening.
Brunnette was one of 14 runners to move on. He assured himself of a chance at a third All-America honor by seizing fifth place in his heat. The top five finishers in each heat of the preliminaries moved on to the finals, along with the next four fastest runners.
He relied on his experience to run a strong race, conserving energy through the early going while always remaining within striking distance of the fifth position. He ran from the back of the pack through the first two laps before creeping up to seventh at the end of lap three. Brunnette settled in between the fourth and sixth spots from that point, before seizing control of a top-five finish over the last half lap.
Brunnette crossed the finish line in 9:24.44, just behind junior Aidan Gilson of MIT (9:24.05), easily securing one of the top five spots in heat one. Senior Kevin Veltre of Rowan finished sixth in the heat nearly three seconds behind.
"Sam ran a smart race," said head coach John Ostler. "He ran just fast enough to move on but should have plenty left in the tank for Saturday."
Grabbing the final guaranteed spot in the first heat proved a good strategy, as nine of the 14 competitors in Saturday's final came from heat two. The sixth through ninth place finishers in the second heat all finished ahead of Veltre.
Brunnette will be seeking his third All-American finish of the year after already achieving the prolific status at the 2017 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in November and the 2018 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in March.
The finals will take place Saturday (May 26) at 12:30 p.m. EST. Live video and results will be available at NCAA.com.
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