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YES / NO – Will Evan Jager Break His American Steeplechase Record?

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on Jun 9 2014, 09:10 PM

8:06.81 and Faster in Sight for Steeple Standout

By Scott Bush

Despite it being his first steeplechase of the 2014 season, Evan Jager has to be eyeing his 8:06.81 American steeplechase record this Wednesday at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway. With a field full of talent, where everyone entered owns a personal best of 8:15 or faster and a trio of athletes own seasonal bests at or faster than his record, Jager’s shot to break his mark adds a whole new level of excitement to the fifth Diamond League event of the season.

Will he break his American record? Some signs point to yes, others to no, so lets break it down in the latest YES/NO segment.

YES

Outside of the first Diamond League meeting of the season in Doha, Wednesday’s men’s steeplechase is the strongest in the world thus far this season. Jager ran a 3:53.33 mile personal best at the Nike Prefontaine Classic late last month, coming off of a strong 13:08.63 5,000m effort at the Payton Jordan Invitational a few weeks earlier. Terrific speed and strength, along with a top field give Jager every opportunity to take down his 8:06.81 best from 2012.

Equally encouraging, Jager paced teammate Daniel Huling to an 8:17.00 effort at the USATF High Performance Distance Classic. Huling’s effort, a seven second victory in the fastest time he’s run since 2010, impressed, while Jager’s smooth and relaxed pacing showed what type of steeple fitness the 25 year old is in.

The eight minute barrier has yet to be broken this season in the steeplechase. With Kenyans Brimin Kipruto, Paul Koech and Jairus Birech all eyeing the mark, Jager has plenty of competition to set the pace for him. It’s been a while since Jager tested his fitness over the steeplechase event, but all signs of late are pointing to him being able to take down his American record, while maybe, just maybe, truly challenging the eight might barrier. 

NO

Jager is a natural athlete and always seems ready to perform over the steeplechase barriers, but running sub-8:06.81 in his first steeple of the season seems so very challenging. He obviously is fit, especially based on his 3:53 mile effort less than two weeks ago at Pre, but a race paced out in what we can assume will be around eight-flat may be a bit much.

Jager continues to show he competes well when he can sit just off the leaders and feel out the race early. He’ll have a tough pack of Kenyans to deal with, who’ve yet to show they really want to get after a 7:5x time this season.

The real question here should revolve around what happens to the pace once the rabbit drops. If the top Kenyans continue to push, Jager can continue to ride along until the final 600m where he’ll really have to push.  However, if the pace lags after the rabbit falls off, will Jager feel comfortable enough to reassert the pace and perhaps take the lead in his first event specialty race of the season? That’s a lingering question that may just make it near impossible to break his impressive mark set in Monaco two years ago. 

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