Jun. 24—EUGENE — A trip to Tokyo is one race away for a former Mountaineer track star.
Isaac Updike took first place in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase in the first round of the U.S. Olympic Trials on Monday, June 21, in Eugene with a time of 8 minutes, 21.01 seconds. Updike needs to finish in the top three of the final round Friday, June, 25 in order to secure a spot on the 2021 U.S. Olympic team.
Updike edged out Hillary Bor, one of the favorites in the steeplechase, by just eight hundredths of a second to take the top spot. Although he led every lap from start to finish, Updike narrowly finished ahead of Bor as the two battled for first.
Updike's time topped all 29 runners across two heats in the event. The top five finishers in each heat of the first round advance to the finals, as well as the next four fastest times.
A native of Ketchikan, Alaska, Updike ran cross country and track and field at Eastern Oregon University from 2011 to 2015. He was a walk-on with the Mountaineers, but the 29-year-old finished his career as the fastest steeplechaser in program history.
Updike holds the university outdoor track records in the 3,000 steeplechase (8:47) and 5,000 (14:17.28), as well as the indoor track record in the 3,000 (8:23.70). In cross country, Updike is fourth all-time in the program's record book with a time of 24:10 in the 8K.
Updike competes for Empire Elite Track Club, a professional distance running team located in New York City. Tom Nohill and John Trautmann, two former U.S. distance runners, coach the club and specialize in Updike's events.
Updike's personal best time in the steeplechase came earlier in the year at the USATF Grand Prix at Oregon Relays on Saturday, April 24. He won the steeplechase that day with a time of 8:17.74.
Since the last Olympic Trials in 2016, Updike has cut his steeplechase time down significantly. He ran a time of 8:42.92 to place 12th out of 15 runners at the 2016 trials and came up well short of making the Olympics. Fast forward to 2021 and Updike has the current leading time heading into one of the biggest races of his career.
The final round of the men's steeplechase is slated to start at 4:42 p.m. on Friday, June 25. The trials are being televised and streamed nationally on NBC Sports.