Bouchrak Advances to NCAA Championships in Steeplechase
TAMPA, Fla.—High Point University track and field freshman Hocine Bouchrak punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships Friday night (May 25) at the NCAA East Preliminaries at the USF Track and Field Stadium in Tampa.
Bouchrak was the final qualifier on time in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase with a big PR of 8:47.08, placing 11th overall. Bouchrak placed fifth in the third and final heat. The top three from each heat automatically qualified, while the next three fastest times also qualified.
Bouchrak is the fourth male Panther to qualify for the national meet, joining Jacob Smith (2012, 2014 – 3,000m steeplechase), Dakota Peachee (2013 – 3,000m steeplechase) and Christian Spaulding (2016 – javelin).
“I was very happy when I finished and saw the time,” Bouchrak said. “When the time came up, I thought, ‘Wow, I made it to Eugene’. I’ve never felt anything like this before in my career.”
Also in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, senior Alejandro Juan Torres placed seventh in the second heat and 20th overall in a time of 8:58.58. Juan Torres won the event at the Big South Championships earlier this month.
“It’s a great highlight for us that Hocine made it to the national meet,” HPU head coach Mike Esposito said. “I really have to give a lot of credit to Alejandro. He is the reason Hocine is here and went to bat for him when we were looking at him. Both of them are so coachable and we talked before the meet and said, ‘you can do this, you can do this,’ because they were being too realistic and needed to dream a little. I was seeing that they could do this in training, Hocine did it tonight and now he gets to go the grandest stage of track and field in Hayward Field.”
Freshman Famke Heinst set a new school record in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase by over 16 seconds in a time of 10:11.03 to place 17th overall. Heinst previously set the school record of 10:27.94 at the Virginia Challenge in April.
“I was elated for Famke because of the way she competed,” Esposito said. “It was the first steeple race for her at this level and she came out and led for about 2,600 meters (of 3,000). Even though she looked mortal for this first time in a long time, she still set a personal best by 17 seconds. She will learn from this and get stronger.”
In the women’s pole vault, freshman Nathalie Elliott capped an impressive first year in the Purple & White by placing 37th after clearing a height of 3.78m (12-4.75) on her first attempt. She followed that with three close attempts at 3.93m (12-10.75).
Senior Makenzi Holmes-DiGiovine’s stellar HPU career closed up after she placed 13th in her flight and 44th overall in the women’s discus with a mark of 44.85m (147-1). Holmes-DiGiovine won the Big South discus championship twice.
“I’m proud of all six of our athletes that made it here,” Esposito said. “The great thing about them is four of them are back next year and three of them are freshman. Our coaching staff has done a great job in that we had a bunch of different events represented here.”