McCann Set To Compete At NCAA Championships
Drake University sophomore Rob McCann (Mississauga, Ontario) will aim to close out what has already been a tremendous season this week at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.
McCann, the reigning Missouri Valley Conference champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, will line up in the semifinals of the event at 7:35 p.m. CST on Thursday, June 12, at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
“He’s [McCann] coming off of two personal bests in his last two races, so he’s definitely peaking at the right time,” said Drake distance coach Dan Hostager. “It’s just a matter of how the race goes.”
McCann will race in the second of two semifinal heats and enters the competition ranked 16th overall in the 24-runner field with his personal best of 8:46.44. The top five runners in each semifinal heat, plus the two next fastest times will advance to Saturday’s championship race.
“At the NCAA Regional he beat some guys that were faster than him on paper and he’ll need to do that again to advance to the finals,” Hostager said. “The goal of the first day is just to get to the next round and finish in the top half of your heat. He’s put the work in and has had a phenomenal year. It would be great to compete well on this stage.”
McCann established himself as one of the top steeplechasers in the nation early in the season via a second-place finish in his heat at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 18 with a then personal best of 8:51.84. That time was the second fastest steeplechase time in program history and the fastest by a Bulldog in 33 years.
A month later, he dropped that time in winning the MVC title in 8:50.79 to best the field by more than six seconds and set the track record on host Southern Illinois’ oval. McCann was also honored off the track at the MVC Championship as the league’s Elite 18 winner for having the highest grade point average at the championship event. McCann owns a 3.94 GPA as a double major in actuarial science and math.
Two weeks after leaving the MVC Championship victorious, he further chipped away at his time by clocking an 8:46.44 finish at the NCAA West Preliminary to punch his ticket to Eugene and the NCAA Championships. McCann recorded the sixth fastest qualifying time in the West Preliminary and the second fastest time in his heat to advance.
Making McCann’s strides this season all the more impressive is the potential the future holds for a sophomore in an event that is traditionally dominated by more experienced runners. He is one of just five underclassmen to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the event. The field is comprised of seven seniors, 12 juniors, four sophomores and a freshman.
“I think he’s maybe surprised himself a little bit and there’s not too many sophomores in this race,” Hostager said. “But he’s not going into it with a ‘I’m just happy to be here approach.’ once the gun goes off he’ll be ready to compete. It will be his first time running at Oregon and a good experience for him.”