HPU’s Peachee Qualifies for NCAA Final in Steeplechase

EUGENE, Ore. — Senior Dakota Peachee of the High Point University men’s track & field team finished fifth in his semifinal heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, automatically advancing to the final on Wednesday evening at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. He will compete in the final on Friday at 8:40 p.m. (EDT).

Peachee got a good start and ran among the top five throughout the entire race. Texas A&M’s Lelei got a strong lead in the early laps and won the race uncontested with a time of 8:40.18.

Colorado’s Aric VanHalen led the chase pack and ended up third in the heat after Brigham Young’s Curtis Carr made a strong move from sixth to second late in the race. Peachee ended up fifth in the heat with a time of 8:45.81, which was the 11th-best time of the evening.

Peachee is High Point’s third NCAA Div. I Championship qualifier and the first to make it to the final. Taylor Milne qualified in the indoor mile in 2004 and Jacob Smith qualified in the outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2012.

Peachee won the 3,000-meter steeplechase and placed third in the 1,500-meter at the Big South Championship this season. He initially broke the HPU record in the steeplechase with his time of 8:46.69 to win the Virginia Challenge on May 11. He lowered the record to 8:43.46 while winning his heat of the NCAA Preliminary on May 24 in Greensboro, N.C.

It was the second year in a row that a High Point runner qualified for the NCAA Championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Smith placed 19th in the semifinals in 2012. He redshirted this year and will compete in indoor and outdoor track & field for HPU in 2013-14.

Peachee will be among 12 competitors in Friday’s steeplechase final, which begins at 5:40 p.m. local time. The top eight finishers score and earn All-America status. The race will have live video.