DES MOINES, Iowa — Air Force senior and Brainerd High School graduate Justin Tyner clocked a time of 8:40.83 to place eighth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Friday.
With his top-eight finish, Tyner becomes the program’s first runner to garner All-America honors in a decade.
Heavy rain and lightning delays pushed the start of the steeplechase finals back an hour. Although eventual national champion Matt Hughes of Louisville (8:24.87) and runner-up Donn Cabral of Princeton (8:32.14) had pulled away from the pack by the 6:30 mark, Tyner was leading a tight group for the third-place spot. He was in the middle of the pack at the bell lap, before finishing eighth, 8/100ths of a second behind the seventh-place finisher.
The time of 8:40.83 was the second-fastest of the season for Tyner.
While the top two runners separated themselves from the field, there was only a four-second difference between third and eighth. Behind Hughes and Cabral, Indiana’s Andrew Poore finished third (8:36.40), while Stanford’s John Sullivan (8:37.74) and Weber State’s Brett Hales (8:37.96) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Indiana’s De’Sean Turner (sixth, 8:39.12), Stanford’s Ben Johnson (seventh, 8:40.75) and Tyner rounded out the award winners in the 14-runner race.
Tyner becomes the first track athlete to garner All-America distinction for the Falcons at an outdoor championship meet since 2001. He is also the just the fifth Air Force Division I track athlete to earn All-America distinction at the outdoor meet.
It is the third All-America distinction of the season for Tyner, who finished fifth in the 3000-meter run and ran the anchor leg of the Falcons’ ninth-place distance medley relay team at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The recently commissioned second lieutenant, who finished third in the 5000-meter run at the 2010 indoor championships, has amassed four All-America awards in his career, a mark that is tied with former Falcon Nick Frawley as the most in the program’s Division I history.