PRINCETON, N.J. - Senior tri-captain Luke O'Connor of the Tufts University men's outdoor track & field team is the new national leader in the 3,000-meter steeplechase after running a 9:03.24 time at Princeton University's Larry Ellis Invitational on Friday.
Running in a field of professionals and collegians, O'Connor was fifth out of 30 overall and second among college runners. Only Division I Central Connecticut junior Austin Trainor finished ahead of O'Connor, posting an 8:58.04 time. Brian Shrader of the Saucony Freedom Track Club won in an 8:50.84 time.
O'Connor's finish ranks first in Division III for the 2017 outdoor season by more than seven seconds. It replaces the previous mark of 9:10.53 by Muhlenberg senior Jaryd Flank at the top of the 3,000 steeplechase list.
The mark is also a career-best for O'Connor, eclipsing the 9:04.53 that he ran at the ECAC Division III meet last year. His time of 9:16.53 was good for fourth place at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last May, his first track All-American award.
In the fall 2016, O'Connor ran a 24:42.4 over eight kilometers at the NCAA Men's Cross Country Championships for 20th place overall and his first All-American honor in that sport.
The Jumbo 3,000 steeplechase record remains the extraordinary 8:50.70 put down by David Patterson at the 2001 IC4A meet. Patterson went on to win the steeplechase national championship in 8:53.74 that year. Tufts' Mark Herlihy was also an NCAA champ in the 3000S in 1988 (9:06.42). O'Connor's time tonight is fourth on the Jumbo all-time list.