2024 Penn Relays Summer Showcase #3 presented by Toyota

James Corrigan Hits Olympic 3K Steeplechase Standard In The Nick Of Time

James Corrigan Hits Olympic 3K Steeplechase Standard In The Nick Of Time

Needing the Olympic standard in the 3,000 meter steeplechase on Saturday to secure his spot on the U.S. team headed to Paris, James Corrigan did just that.

Jun 30, 2024 by Tim O'Hearn

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PHILADELPHIA -- James Corrigan wanted to leave nothing to chance.

After a surprising third-place finish in the men’s 3K steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday, Corrigan’s journey to Paris was missing something: the Olympic qualifying standard.

Though the Brigham Young University athlete, 22, had earned provisional selection to the U.S. team, he needed the world rank or time standard to be allowed to compete. 

Corrigan’s career best mark of 8:21 was short of the Olympic standard of 8:15.0. What’s more, though, his world rank of 81 was also holding him back from the top 36. 

Corrigan had seven days before the end of the qualifying window to reach that time. On Saturday, hopping into his third race in eight days and traveling across time zones, he ran 8:13.67 to secure his spot. 

The performance was 12th best in the world and moved up to No. 2 in the American pecking order. 

“It’s a dream come true,” said Corrigan, who finished ninth in the NCAA 3K steeplechase final on June 7. “It’s a lot of pressure. Just the progression that’s happened and how quickly things have happened, I really struggled running my first round races, because I’ve never run an event far enough in the season to warrant a round. So running the prelim and final at nationals taught me a lot.” 

Before Corrigan left Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, there was speculation as to where he would chase the standard. 

The last day for qualifying was June 30, which hypothetically gave him time. On Tuesday, the Penn Relays Summer Showcase announced that the men’s 3K steeplechase would be added. 

Corrigan and his coaches decided he would chase the standard in Philadelphia.

Then more news came.. As the meet’s category lifted into World Athletics Challenger Meet status on Wednesday, it was announced that prize money was being offered and athletes could accrue points toward their world ranking.

Corrigan knew the path to qualifying was not straightforward. An athlete without the standard would still need to be within the top 36 in the world rankings. 

The meet having been upgraded to a Challenger meet did have implications for his chase. 

Since it was bumped up to a ‘D’ meet, the point structure changed, with a win netting him 35 points. Those extra 23 points would mean precious seconds in the scoring table.

In the end, however, the meet’s extra points awarded to first place weren’t necessary. 

Dan Michalski switched in for Kenneth Rooks as a pacer late into the week and performed beautifully, leading Corrigan through 2,000 meters.

Corrigan had time to spare. 

“I’m just so excited,” Corrigan said. “I hope I gave a lot of youngsters some good motivation to run track one day, specifically the steeplechase. I mean, if I could have said something right then and there, I think I would have been so excited and smiley. Now, I’m so excited knowing I’m officially …it’s kind of cool I didn’t get interviewed then and I get to get interviewed now, where I know I’m going to represent Team USA — pretty dang sure, at least.”

In a matter of weeks, Corrigan went from NCAA contender to one of the world’s elite. 

His 8:13.67 produced magic at Franklin Field — where Corrigan’s family, friends, BYU supporters, and fiance were all in attendance.

A rare successful standard chase on the back of a massive personal best, Corrigan has completed his dream season. Next stop: the Paris Olympics.


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