AZUSA, Calif. – After becoming the first Belmont University athlete to break the 9-minute mark in the 3,000-meter steeplechase earlier this year, Declan McManus raised the bar a little farther on Thursday at the Bryan Clay Invitational.
McManus (Worcestershire, England) shaved another two seconds off his already school-record time in the steeplechase by running an 8:57.62 in a loaded field at Azusa Pacific University's distance carnival. He and senior Matt Edwards (Glamorgan, Wales), who posted a personal best in the 5,000 meters, were the lone Bruins running at the meet.
The sophomore McManus finished 14th out of a field of more than 100 runners. The time is not only among the very best in the Ohio Valley Conference this season, but it would place him in the top 12 in the NCAA East Region based on results prior to this week's meets. It will also likely earn him an invitation to the NCAA East Preliminary meet next month. The top 48 in the region qualify.
"Being in a stacked race with so many guys so close in standard really helped," McManus said of his record-breaking race. "It got out pretty quick which was great and set it up for a really good time."
McManus previously set Belmont's record at the Raleigh Relays last month with an 8:59.90. In his first steeplechase event since that race, McManus found his stride early and maintained the pace through the finish line.
"He looked great," said Belmont Assistant Track Coach Kate Bucknam. "He ran pretty much the splits he wanted to and came away with a PR. It's a good step in the right direction with conference right around the corner."
Running in one of the final heats of the night, Edwards set a personal best by better than 16 seconds when he crossed the finish line of the 5,000 in 14:37.08. He was seventh in his heat of 27 finishers and 57th overall out of a massive group of more than 305 racers from around the country.
"Mattie ran a smart race and stayed in the game even though the pace was all over the place," Bucknam said. "Tonight was a great confidence builder moving forward."
The majority of the Bruins stayed much closer to home at the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta. Action there begins Friday and continues Saturday.
The Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships are May 10-12 at Cookeville, Tenn.
BELMONT MEN'S RESULTS
14. Declan McManus, so. — 8:57.62*^
57. Matt Edwards, sr. — 14:37.08*