This week we saw Evan Jager, a newcomer and natural (no offense Robert Redford) to the steeplechase, breaking of the American record at the Monaco Diamond League meet. The race included world leader Paul Koech attempting to get the world record but became overshadowed by the victory of Conselus Kipruto and the stunning record of Jager in third place.
Though the race was rabbited, it showed that Jager could hang with the Kenyans, the longtime stalwarts of the steeplechase. By beating Daniel Lincoln’s 8:08.82 with an 8:06.81, the often injured Jager has proven that he is comfortable with the new event and that he has the requisite abilities to be a contender with top echelon competitors of any nation.
American fans should be overjoyed with this turn of events as it has been a long time since the U.S. was a viable threat at the steeplechase (the last being 1984 Olympic bronze medalist Brian Diemer) despite strong showings by men like Lincoln, Tim Broe and Anthony Famigletti. The appearance of Jager from the 1500 and 5000 meter races to the steeple has given the U.S. another viable chance at being in the mix with the world’s best. Headed to London with Jager will be Donn Cabral and Kyle Alcorn, both young and talented who represent youthful strength in an event that has been often overlooked and ceded to the East Africans.
With renewed vitality and exuberance in the water barriers, Jager and his American cohorts Alcorn and Cabral lead the charge to make the U.S. a stronger force in the obscure distance. The performance by Jager at Monaco has breathed fire into the event and we can be glad to know the wunderkind has found a home over the jumps. May this be but one of many more scintillating races that the towheaded harrier gives us a reason to clap.