CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Senior Dakota Peachee of the High Point University men’s track & field team set a school record while winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Virginia Challenge on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. Peachee finished the race in 8:46.69, which ranked 10th in the nation on Saturday evening.
Freshman Benji Szalai placed third in the race in 8:56.02, which was close to his career best.
“Dakota and Benji led the whole race, they went out quick and had one slow lap but otherwise were spot on,” said HPU head coach Mike Esposito. “Benji started to labor a little bit with about 500 meters to go. The good thing is, we can correct that and we know Benji can close well.
“Similar to the Big South Championship, Dakota took charge with a little over 400 meters to go and closed in about 65. We’ve always known he’s capable of running at this level. Now he just needs to perform at the NCAA Preliminary. If he runs well he can qualify for the NCAA Final.”
Peachee’s time of 8:46.69 beat Jacob Smith’s HPU record of 8:47.09 set last spring. Smith just finished his fourth year at High Point and will return for a fifth season of competition in 2013-14. Smith qualified for the NCAA Final last year.
Peachee ranked 10th in the nation and fifth in the East region as of Saturday evening. More meet results will be submitted as the weekend goes on, so Peachee’s ranking could change.
Peachee and Szalai are both qualified for the NCAA Preliminary, which will be held May 23-25 at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C. Junior Evan Emery is slated to compete in the 200-meter and sophomore Christian Spaulding is set for the javelin at the NCAA Preliminary. Emery, Spaulding and other members of the team will compete in the Aggie Last Chance Meet at North Carolina A&T on Sunday evening.