Samuel Gerstenbacher reclaimed the South Jersey steeplechase alumni record Friday night, seven days after losing it.

Gerstenbacher, a graduate of Schalick and Elizabethtown, ran 8:38.94 for the 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday night at Track Night NYC at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island in Manhattan.

That’s No. 29 among American men this year and only eight seconds off the qualifying standard for the USATF National Championships next month in Eugene.

Former Shawnee and Michigan runner Connor Herr set the South Jersey steeplechase alumni record of 8:53.66 at the 2015 Penn Relays.

It stood until last month, when Gerstenbacher ran 8:51.03 at Princeton. But Cinnaminson graduate and Duke grad student Mike Ungvarsky then shattered Gerstenbacher’s record when he ran 8:46.16 at the ACC Championships in Durham, N.C., a week ago.

Ungvarsky held the record for seven days, until Gerstenbacher ran 8:38.94 Friday night.

So the record has been held by three different runners and changed hands three times since April 15.

Gerstenbacher mixed it up with some some of the best steeplechasers in the world Friday night. Canadian Jean-Simon Desgagnes won the race in 8:22.95, the No. 9 time in the world this year; Old Bridge and Temple graduate Travis Mahoney was second with a near PR 8:24.89; U.S. No. 2 Isaac Updike was 3rd at 8:27.88; and U.S. No. 9 Brody Smith placed 4th in 8:28.60. Gerstenbacher placed 8th with the No. 29 time this year among U.S. men.

Gerstenbacher ran all seven of his full laps between 68.55 and 69.54, which is about as evenly paced a race as you can imagine. The fact that it’s over barriers and a water jump makes that sort of even pace even more impressive.

My project for today was a list of the 10-fastest steeplechasers in New Jersey history. Here’s what I came up with. Anybody missing?

8:15.69 … Steve Slattery [Mt. Olive], Sept. 14, 2007 [Van Damme Memorial,
Boudewijnstadion, Brussels, Belgium]
8;24.05 … Travis Mahoney [Old Bridge], June 21, 2021 [U.S. Olympic Trials [trials], Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore.]
8:24.09 … Craig Forys [Colts Neck], July 15, 2014 [Spitzen Leichtathletik, Stadion Allmend, Lucern, Switzerland]
8:38.53 … Ray Puglsey [Mendham, Dartmouth], April 23, 1992 [Penn Relays, Franklin Field, Philadelphia]
8:38.94 … Samuel Gerstenbacher [Schalick], May 20, 2022 [Track Night NYC, Icahn Stadium, Randall’s Island, New York]
8:42.64 … Colin Daly [River Dell, Penn], May 14, 2021 [ACC Championships, Paul Derr Track and Field Facility, Raleigh, N.C.]
8:43.09 … William Daly [River Dell, Penn], May 14, 2021 [ACC Championships, Paul Derr Track and Field Facility, Raleigh, N.C.]
8:46.16 … Mike Ungbarsky [Cinnaminson, Duke], May 13, 2022 [ACC Championships, Morris Williams Track and Field Stadium, Durham, N.C.]
8:47.93 … Matt Forys [Howell], June 6, 2007 [NCAA Championships, Hornet Stadium, Sacramento, Calif.]
8:49.63 … Mike Soroko [Kinnelon, Rider], May 14, 2011 [IC4A, Weaver Stadium, Princeton]


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