Hannah Steelman of Wofford College (center) competes in the 3,000-meter steeplechase during the recent NCAA Division I East regional track and field championship in Jacksonville, Florida. Credit: Courtesy of David Rosenblum

Hannah Steelman will be busy at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday night.

The 2017 Orono High School graduate, now a sophomore at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, will compete in the finals of both the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000-meter run at the University of Texas.

Those two events total 4.97 miles, races she’ll run within 91 minutes of each other.

Both finals are scheduled to be televised on ESPN2, the steeplechase at 6:54 p.m. and the 5,000 at 8:25 p.m.

Steelman qualified for the steeplechase final for the second straight year Thursday night by winning her semifinal heat in a school-record time of 9 minutes, 49.51 seconds.

She led the first lap of the race, then dropped back during the second lap before regaining the lead on the third lap and maintaining control over the final 2,000 meters to top runner-up Alissa Niggemann of Wisconsin (9:51.60) by more than two seconds.

Steelman’s time was the third-fastest overall in the two semifinal heats, trailing only two-time defending national champion Allie Ostrander of Boise State, who won the second heat in 9:44.32, and Gabrielle Jennings of Furman, the runner-up in the second heat at 9:47.84.

The top five finishers in each heat plus the next two fastest times qualified for the steeplechase final.

Steelman also qualified for the 5,000 final for the second straight year with her time of 16:10.37 at the NCAA East regional held in late May. She is seeded 17th among the 24 qualifiers.

Steelman is the first Wofford College track and field student-athlete to qualify for the NCAA Championships in back-to-back seasons, and by virtue of advancing to the finals she has secured All-America status for the second straight year.

Steelman is one of only seven student-athletes from the Southern Conference to qualify for the NCAA Championships and the only one to qualify in two events. She is the only student-athlete from the league to compete in the NCAA Championships this season in cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track.

During her career at Orono High School, Steelman won the 2014 Class C cross-country state championship as a sophomore, and during her career helped the Red Riots win three consecutive state team titles.

She also was a three-time individual state champion in the Class C 1,600-meter run during outdoor track season, and as a senior she added her first state title in the 3,200. Steelman also helped Orono win the 4×800 relay in 2017 as the Red Riots captured what at the time was their sixth consecutive Class C state championship.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...