How did Latter-day Saint Kenneth Rooks finish at the world track championships?

The BYU runner finished his remarkable season with 10th-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals. Also, Courtney Wayment qualifies for finals

For the first time in several races, Kenneth Rooks didn’t win the race.

The U.S. and collegiate champion from BYU and Latter-day Saint returned missionary finished 10th in the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the world track and field championships Tuesday, Aug. 22, in Budapest, Hungary, marking the end of a long, prosperous season.

“It was good experience. Yeah, I’m looking forward to making my way back to getting there,” Rooks told reporters after the race. “I didn’t do anything differently preparing for this race than I did the first race. I definitely feel a lot more tired than I did after the prelim.”

The only American to reach the finals, Rooks stayed with the leaders for the first three laps but fell back a few places when the pace picked up in the fourth lap. He faded in the final two laps but finished strong with a time 8:20.02, more than three seconds slower than the time he ran to win the U.S. nationals after falling.

The steeplechase is a race with multiple barriers, such as hurdles, including one in a water pit.

“What I should have done is I should have made a move around when somebody first started moving up to the front, because I knew they would push it with four laps to go,” Rooks said. “Instead of waiting until when I did, they had already made the move by the time I was trying to respond, and I lost contact. In retrospect, I should have been more assertive.”

Defending Olympic and world champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco won the race with a time of 8:03.53. Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma, who set the world record earlier this year, came in second at 8:05.44, and Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot followed at third, 8:11.98.

Also in Budapest, BYU coach Ed Eyestone told the Deseret News it was “one race too many” for Rooks.

“That was, what, his 10th steeplechase race of the season,” said Eyetone, including trial heats in the total. “But having said that, he went into the race with intent and ran with courage and put himself in a good position. ... This is a young man who did great things this year.”

During this successful junior year at BYU, Rooks became the first BYU athlete ever to win both the NCAA championships and USA championships while still a student-athlete.

Before this year, his top accomplishment was a sixth-place finish at the 2022 NCAA championships. 

Rooks plans to take a week off and then resume training for the 2023 NCAA cross-country season, the Deseret News reported.

Courtney Wayment qualifies for finals

BYU alumna Courtney Wayment qualified on Wednesday, Aug. 23, for the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals. She was fourth in her heat with a time of 9:20.60. The top five in each of the three qualifying heats moved to the finals.

Beatrice Chepkoech, of Kenya, right, Courtney Wayment of the United States, and Winfred Mutile Yavi, of Bahrain and other athletes run on the track.
USA’s Courtney Wayment, second from left, is fourth in a women’s 3000-meter steeplechase heat during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. | Martin Meissner, Associated Press

Of the 15 qualifiers, her time is 11th — and less than five seconds behind the top time of 9:16.41.

She was one of three women representing USA in the event and the only one to move to the finals on Aug. 27. Wayment placed third in at the USA Outdoor National Track and Field Championships in June.

Wayment won the event at the 2022 NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon, setting a new collegiate record . At the world track and field championships a year ago, she also qualified for the finals and placed 12th overall.

Note: Courtney Wayment placed 15th in the final 3,000-meter steeplechase race on Sunday, Aug. 27.

Courtney Wayment, of the United States, left, follows three other runners over a barrier in the race.
Courtney Wayment, of the United States, left, follows other runners over a barrier during a women’s 3000-meter steeplechase heat during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. | David Josek, Associated Press
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