BATON ROUGE -- Michaela Mannova did just enough to stay with the pack through most of the race and made a big push over the final three laps to pass the leader and win the national championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Mannova finished in a new NCAA Championships record of 9:45.94 to give the Cougars back-to-back national titles in the steeplechase (Elizabeth Jackson won the steeplechase title last year for BYU).
After hanging with the pack for most of the race, freshman Michaela Mannova moved to the front with only three laps to go. Northern Arizona's Ida Nillson pushed past Mannova and lead the race coming into the bell lap. After falling into second, Mannova stayed with Nillson and made it a two-person race over the final lap. With just over 300 meters remaining in the race, Mannova made a strong move to catch Nillson and passed her after going over the water hurdle. Mannova stretched her lead to three meters from there, easily winning the national title.
"I felt good coming into the race so I just went out and ran my race," Mannova said. "I was not sure I was going to win the race until the final 50 meters because I knew anything could happen. Winning the national championship is very exciting for me."
Mannova's time is the top steeplechase mark in the world this year and breaks the Czech Republic record she set in heat races on Thursday.
Kassi Andersen, a freshman from Provo, earned All-America honors in the 1,500 meters on Saturday, finishing in ninth place at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. On the bell lap, Andersen found herself in 11th place, but a strong finish over the final 300 meters saw the Provo High alum overtake two other runners to pick up the final All-America citation in the event. Andersen completed the race in a time of 4:18.27, finishing just four one-hundredths of a second (.04) from an eighth-place finish.
"I didn't feel as good as I did in the trials on Thursday but I went out there and just ran as hard as I could," Andersen said. "When I made the push over the final 400 and passed a few people I thought I had done enough to score but I just got passed at the end."
The Cougar women finished the NCAA Championships in a 10th-place tie with Illinois and Texas at 19 points apeice. South Carolina won the women's title and LSU won the men's title.