HPU’s Peachee Wins, Advances to NCAA Final in Steeplechase

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Senior Dakota Peachee of the High Point University men’s track & field team won his heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Championship Preliminary on Friday night in Greensboro, N.C., qualifying for the NCAA Final. He finished in an HPU-record time of 8:43.46 and will compete in the national semifinal in Eugene, Oregon, on June 5.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know I won tonight and I’m going to Eugene,” said Peachee. “Everything has been geared toward this. I wanted to get out to the front right away so I wouldn’t get caught up on any barriers. The race played out the way I wanted.”

Peachee led every lap of the race, extending his lead to two seconds with two laps to go and almost three seconds with a lap to go. Peachee dominated the final lap, winning the race by 3.73 seconds over runner-up Dustin Betz of Indiana State.

Behind Peachee’s 8:43.46, Betz finished in 8:47.19 and third-place finisher Joshua Roche of Indiana took third in 8:47.44. All three automatically advanced to Eugene. Fourth-place finisher Dylan Sorensen of Georgetown advanced based on his time of 8:50.29. The top three finishers in each heat plus the next three best times moved on to the NCAA Semifinals.

Peachee’s time beat his previous HPU record of 8:46.69, which he set at the Virginia Challenge on May 11.

Also on Friday, High Point sophomore Christian Spaulding placed 33rd in the javelin with a throw of 61.61 meters (202-1) on his second attempt. Junior sprinter Evan Emery placed seventh in his heat and 38th overall in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.56. Freshman Benji Szalai also competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase but did not finish the race.

Under the current NCAA Preliminary format, which has been run since 2010, HPU’s four competitors were a program-best.

Last season, current HPU senior Jacob Smith qualified for the NCAA Championship Final in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Smith redshirted this season and will return for a fifth season at HPU in 2013-14. Before Peachee this season, Smith had held the HPU record of 8:47.09 which he set at the NCAA Preliminary last season.

Peachee will run in the NCAA Semifinals on Wednesday, June 5. If he advances to the final, he will run on Friday, June 7. The NCAA Championship Final will be contested at the University of Oregon’s historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.