Ben Pederson is thrilled to follow his teammate’s and training partner’s path out west.
The sophomore from Mount Prospect, Illinois (Prospect HS), has qualified to compete in the steeplechase this week at the USA Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.
Pederson is scheduled to race on Saturday at 5:17 p.m. Pacific.
“This is the a goal I’ve had all season. I’ve talked about it during cross country and track & field seasons,” Pederson said. “To be out in Oregon and run with some of the best in the country is amazing. I still can’t believe I’ve qualified for this race. I don’t have any expectations. I want to run my best and see what I put out there.”
Pederson is the second Hope runner in as many years to run at the USATF Junior Nationals. He is one of 17 runners in this year’s field.
Junior Tyler Brinks of Commerce Township, Michigan (Walled Lake Northern HS), medaled at the 2014 USATF Junior Nationals with a fifth-place time of 9 minutes, 29.32 seconds.
Head cross country coach and assistant track & field coach Mark Northuis said it is exciting to send another athlete to the USATF Junior Nationals.
“(Ben and Tyler) trained together spring, giving them quality steeplechase workouts,” Northuis said. “We are blessed to have two steeplers of their quality at Hope College.”
Qualifying for the USA Junior National meet shows Pederson’s potential in the steeplechase, Northuis said.
“He has only been training for this event since February and has become one of the top junior steeplers in the nation,” Northuis said. “Competing in the national championships will help him mature in his racing tactics and give him the experience necessary to compete at the collegiate level. The meet is run in conjunction with the Senior National Championships, so he will be able to talk with the top track and field athletes in the world.”