LA CROSSE, Wisc. - Calvin College sophomore Caleb Ferguson advanced to the finals in the steeplechase at the 2018 NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday afternoon.
Competing in his second national meet, Ferguson (Naperville, Il./Neuqua Valley HS) advanced on Thursday by finishing 14th in a time of 9:26.35. The time was good for ninth in the second of two prelim heats Thursday and allowed Ferguson to grab the last spot for Saturday's championship final.
Running in warm mid-afternoon conditions, Ferguson stayed with a tight pack of eight runners in Thursday's second prelims heat but struggled to find room to maneuver as he hurdled the barriers and water pit.
Ferguson fell behind the lead pack in the final lap-and-a-half but held on down the stretch to gain the final berth to Saturday's final.
"It was a such a tightly packed second heat," said Calvin distance coach Brian Diemer. "When Caleb tried to make a move he found himself blocked by a runner or two in front of him. There were some tactical things he could have done differently. He learned a lot from this race and he will use that knowledge to his advantage on Saturday."
Calvin head track and field coach Bret Otte was impressed that Ferguson dug down to hang on to the last qualifying spot on a hot weather day when things did not go true to form. "Caleb proved to himself that he is capable of running a less than stellar race yet still has the physical ability to advance in a national field. I'm pleased that he found a way to get to Saturday and I'm excited to see what he can do in the final."
Saturday's steeplechase final is set to begin at 12:30 p.m. (EST).