Schalick graduate Samuel Gerstenbacher, who lowered his steeplechase time to 8:38.94 last spring, raced Saturday for the first time since May and won the Blue Jay Challenge at Elizabethtown, his alma mater.
The race pits Elizabeth alumni vs. the current team and for the first time in race history the alumni came out with the team title, beating the current team 25-32.
Gerstenbacher covered the 4,500-meter (2.8-mile) layout at the Elizabethtown Solar Array Course in 13:49, which is 15:21 pace for 5,000 meters and finished 55 meters ahead of former teammate Christian Schaaf, who ran 14:14.38 for 5,000 meters on the track last year.
A total of 35 runners competed – 18 current runners and 17 alums. The alums went 1-2-3-7-16, and the current team went 4-5-6-8-9.
Gerstenbacher is the fastest steeplechaser in South Jersey history. He ranked No. 36 among U.S. men last year but only 16 seconds out of the top 10.
Gerstenbacher only ran two steeples this past outdoor season but in the second he ran 8:38.94 at Track Night NYC at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island in New York on May 20.
That broke the South Jersey record of 8:46.16 set a week early by Cinnaminson graduate and Duke grad student Mike Ungvarsky, who had just run 8:46.16 at the ACC Championships in Durham, N.C.