Spring Into The Season To Host First Steeplechase

For the first time in North Carolina history, a high school will have the steeplechase and host the event on their track.

On Saturday, March 2, Metrolina Christian will host the Spring into the Season Kickoff at the school's new Savoy Track & Field Complex, which has a Beynon surface. Beynon surfaces are used at the University of Oregon's Heyward Field, the indoor TRACK at New Balance in Boston, and the Virginia Beach Sports Complex, as well as indoor tracks at Boston University, Liberty University and outdoor tracks at Harvard, Yale, Duke, Virginia and others.

And the 2,000-meter steeplechase will be featured at the March 2 event.

Christ School's Dawson Reeves (4:08/8:57) will attempt to break the North Carolina steeplechase record of 5:58.38 set by Ardrey Kell's Patrick Gibbons at the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals. Several others, including Ragsdale's John Howard, Weddington's Ian Mas, Christ School's Luke Parrish, Jeffeson Forest's (VA) Macon Smith, and runners from RJ Reynolds, Cuthbertson, Central Academy and other schools, will look to rewrite North Carolina's all-time top-50 list steeplechase list.

Page's Allie Kinlaw, Marvin Ridge's Ella Pasko and Weddington's CeCe Taft will headline the girls' race, with several others committing within the next few days.

This is the earliest the event is offered in any state, so it gives runners a chance to dip their feet in the event (and water jump) before trying it at traditional landing spots for the event, like Vertklasse, Volunteer Classic, Dogwood or Beach Run at Myrtle Beach, or possibly during the summer at AAU Junior Olympic qualifiers. 

It also helps them get an early qualifier for Nike and New Balance Outdoor Nationals.

"Having it now and giving kids the opportunity this early to qualify for outdoor nationals, should help them feel more comfortable when they run it later," said Metrolina Christian coach Brett Honeycutt. "And it gives them one more opportunity to compete in the event."

To add to the historic occasion, several past U.S. steeple greats will present medals at the meet, including Anthony Famiglietti, Jim Cooper and Scott Dvorak.

Famiglietti, a three-time All-American at Tennessee, was a two-time Olympic steepler, two-time US champion (and also runner-up three times), a two-time World Championship team member and was one of the top U.S. steeplechasers for 10 years (2000-2009), finishing in the top five in seven U.S. Championships; Cooper, an All-American at North Carolina and a South Mecklenburg grad, was also one of the top U.S. steeplers for 10 years (1983-1992), finishing top five in six U.S. championships, winning silver in 1986 and bronze in 1988 (he still holds three University of North Carolina records, including the steeplechase mark); and Dvorak, a two-time All-American, was a national-level steepler and All-ACC in the event, and a top 5,000-meter runner, finishing 7th in the 5,000 meters at the 1997 U.S. Championships, while also representing the U.S. at the World Ekiden Championships, the U.S. Emerging Elite team in Europe, and in the U.S. Olympic Festival, and also winning the 1997 Antarctica Marathon in a continental record.

The meet has commitments from some of the state's top boys' and girls' returning steeple chasers, and others, including from bordering states, have been invited.

"We want to make the event memorable for all of the athletes, especially those running the steeple, so we asked Anthony, Jim and Scott last year if they would present the medals, and each were enthusiastic about doing it," said Metrolina Christian coach, Brett Honeycutt. "The steeplechase is really a great event for everyone, and it is really an underappreciated event. North Carolina is a state with so much distance talent, and we want to highlight that talent and give high school students the opportunity to compete in this extraordinary event."

"I have seen good and mid-level talented distance runners, as well as top-tier distance runners, jump in this event and be successful, so this is a great opportunity to compete in the event."

 "Our hope, as well, is that the North Carolina all-time 2,000-meter steeplechase list will be rewritten, and with more opportunities for high school students to run the steeple, I can't see why it wouldn't happen." 

* The North Carolina boys' 2,000-meter steeplechase record of 5:58.38 was set in 2022 by Ardrey Kell's Patrick Gibbons at Nike Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Oregon, and the girls' mark was set in 2002 by Nelly Anderson (Cordillera Academy, a homeschool) at Adidas Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro. 

* The best boys' and girls' times in North Carolina last outdoor track season were run by Christ School's Luke Parrish (6:17.33, No. 11 all-time in North Carolina history) and AC Reynolds' Ella Kepple (7:21.41, NC No. 5 all-time).

* The oldest mark on the boys' list is from 1983 by Southeast Guilford's John Erickson (6:20.14, NC No. 5 all-time), who was a Foot Locker cross country qualifier. The oldest girls' mark is from 2002, by record-holder Anderson.

If interested in competing in the steeple on March 2 at Metrolina Christian, please contact Brett Honeycutt at brettrhoneycutt@hotmail.com or text him at 704-236-4204