EUGENE, OR - Iona College women's track freshman Maya Rehberg advanced to the 2014 NCAA Championship 3,000-meter steeplechase final after her performance Wednesday in the semifinal heat. The race was held at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.
Rehberg finished third in the second heat of the 3k steeplechase with at time of 10:05.07 to automatically qualify for the Friday's final. She was less than five seconds behind the heat winner, Michigan State junior Leah O'Connor (10:00.83). Arkansas senior Grace Heymsfield was second in 10:03.34 while Rehberg edged out the fourth and fifth place finishers - West Virginia senior Sarah Martinelli and Washington junior Liberty Miller by .20 and .33 respectively.
After the first 1,000 meters Rehberg sat in eighth place, but was just over a second behind Heymsfield, the race leader. She slipped into fifth place after 2,200 meters and was a mere .35 seconds out of third place. The top two finishers held more than a two second advantage. Rehberg moved to third with 400 meters left in the race and held on to the slim advantage at the finish line.
The first heat proved to be a much faster race with five of the six qualifiers earning times under 10 minutes. Cornell senior Rachel Sorna earned the top time with a 9:53.76. Rehberg's time overall was ninth best. Her season best and school record time of 10:03.48 was set in the quarterfinal heat of the NCAA East Preliminaries at North Florida.
The top five times in the two heats plus the next two fastest times in either heat advance to Friday's final which is slated for 8:35 pm ET at Hayward Field. Rehberg and SMU's Tova Magnusson are the lone freshman in the 3k steeplechase final.
Rehberg joins teammates Kate Avery and Matthew Gillespie in the finals of their respective events at the NCAA Championship. Gillepsie competes in the men's 5,000-meter event Friday night at 9:10 pm ET while Avery competes in the women's 5k Saturday at 6:20 pm. All three championship events can be seen live on ESPN 3 or WatchESPN.com