"I really like it because it's really different from any other track and field event I've ever done," said BYU senior Andrea Harrison. "Instead of just going around in circles, it just mixes it up."
"Not everyone can do it," said BYU women's cross-country head coach Patrick Shane. "It takes some athleticism, some flexibility both in the hamstring and hip area. And then you have to be kind of fearless."
Harrison has already joined a long line of great steeplechase runners at BYU, and now she has her sites set on becoming an All-American. Harrison qualified for the national championships last week in Arkansas in dramatic fashion.
Trailing along in 7th place, having to finish in the top-3 to qualify, Harrison made up 40 meters in just two and half laps to earn her first bid to nationals.
"I was unsure if this was actually going to happen," Harrison said. "With a couple laps left, I was like, 'nope, I really am going to make this happen. My coach, he yelled, 'you will go to nationals!' So I was like, 'I will.' So I have to go now."
"I had to do something, didn't I?" Shane said with a laugh.
"It was really motivational," said Harrison. "I just took off from there and starting picking off people one by one."
"She literally willed herself to the national championships," Shane said. "It was one of the most exciting races I've ever watched in the 34 years that I've been here at BYU."
BYU has produced three women's steeplechase national champions. Elizabeth Jackson, Michaela Mannova and Kassi Anderson won the first three steeplechase titles from 2001-2003. Harrison, who is one of 24 runners from around the nation who will compete at the University of Oregon June 11th, needs to finish in the top-8 to earn All-American status.
But just knowing she will be headed to Eugene to compete for a national title has made her senior season truly memorable.
"I was ecstatic," Harrison said. "I was so happy, so it's a dream come true."