BYU Runner Mounts Insane Comeback Against Pros To Win U.S. Steeplechase Championship After Nasty Spill Put Him Dead Last

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Kenneth Rooks pulled off one of the most athletic feats of the year Saturday and did so in remarkable fashion. The 23-year-old collegiate runner, in a race against professionals, came back from dead last after a nasty spill and earned himself a spot on the United States Track and Field‘s World Outdoor Championships team.

Not only did he earn a qualifying spot, he won the national title outright!

Kenneth Rooks breaks the tape to win the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase Final during the 2023 USATF Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field on July 08, 2023 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rooks, who just finished his junior year at BYU, runs the steeplechase. His personal best back in May was the second-fastest time ever by a collegian, and broke a 46-year-old school record.

One month later, Rooks won the 2023 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. It was a hot, humid day in Austin, Texas, but the Latter-day Saints long distance runner served his mission in Uganda, which he said helped prepare him for the conditions.

He won an NCAA title by six full seconds.

Rooks faced adversity again Saturday as he took to the track against some of the best steeplechase professionals in the world. It wasn’t the conditions this time. It was a self-inflicted wound.

Rooks was running alongside the leaders about two minutes into the race when he miscalculated his stride, tripped, flopped into the hurdle and hit the ground hard. The fall put him in dead last.

As Rooks gathered himself and got back on his horse, the NCAA champion was tasked with mounting a significant comeback. The pack left him in the dust and he had to turn on the burners just to get back in the mix.

He did, and took it even one step further.

Kenneth Rooks caught the pack and returned to the leaders.

The chase group was not going to catch the group out in front with less than 200 meters to go. Although Rooks was among them, he was sitting in fourth of four.

And then he was in third of four.

And then second.

With the final water jump behind them, Rooks tapped into his fuel reserve and kicked his way into first. He took the lead shortly after the last hurdle and the crowd went bonkers as they cheered him across the line.

From last to first, Rooks won a national title with enough space to pull up and raise his hands at the end. Sheer grit and pure bliss!

With the win, Kenneth Rooks automatically qualified for the World Championships in Budapest next month. While the field around him will be challenging, the Cougars’ steeplechase champion does not appear to be intimidated by anyone or anything!

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.

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