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Weber State’s Anderson fulfills dream

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Lindsey Anderson, left, joins Anna Willard and Jennifer Barringer after winning steeplechase spots on the U.S. Olympic track team at Thursday night's trials.

Lindsey Anderson, left, joins Anna Willard and Jennifer Barringer after winning steeplechase spots on the U.S. Olympic track team at Thursday night’s trials.

Andy Lyons, Getty Images

EUGENE, Ore. — She may have finished second, but Thursday night was a night of firsts for former Weber State All-American distance runner and current Wildcat assistant coach Lindsey Anderson.

Placing second in the late-night women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Track Trials, Anderson hit the 9-minute, 30-second benchmark for the first time and qualified for the Olympics for the first time in an event that will be making its Summer Games debut in August.

In the distance event that combines repeated hurdle-like obstacles and water traps, Anderson came in at 9:30.75, trailing fellow Nike teammate Anna Willard, who won with an American-best time of 9:27.59.

Jennifer Barringer, the University of Colorado runner who won the 2008 NCAA steeplechase title and broke Anderson's previous NCAA record time, was third at 9:33.11 to round out the top threesome that earned U.S. Olympic Team berths and is bound for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"It is unbelievable," said Anderson after the race, adding "it is so exciting to come down knowing that I was going to make the Olympic team on that last straight-away. There are no words to describe that feeling."

Sariah Long, who concluded her Weber State career as an NCAA steeplechase All-American last month, was 11th at 10:00.62.

Barringer led Willard and Anderson early, with the pace looking to break the U.S. record of 9:28.75.

Willard made her move with 600 meters left, taking the lead for good at the final water barrier en route to the fastest women's steeplechase time ran on U.S. soil. Anderson surged past Barringer late to claim second and her Olympic team spot.

"Get to the finish line and let's go," Anderson said. "I don't remember thinking anything — just really excited."

The fast pace didn't surprise Anderson.

"I wanted it to go out fast like it did," said the former Morgan High School standout, who resides in her hometown. "That is what we were planning on. I knew if I could stay right with Jenny and Anna that I would be there at the end and be able to finish strong.

"It still felt like people were right on me. I was still running like they were — even though I wasn't sure how far behind me they were or anything. I wasn't going to look or let down at all and give up that spot.

"I just couldn't be happier," said Anderson, who won nine Big Sky titles and was a two-time All-American at Weber State. "I am not going to be able to sleep tonight. I am going to be up just running in my sleep and not be able to calm down. I am just so excited. ... It is just a dream come true."

The men's steeplechase held its semifinals earlier Thursday night, with Utahns Josh McAdams and Michael Spence advancing to this afternoon's finals.

McAdams, who ran at BYU and went on to win individual titles at the 2006 NCAA Championships, 2007 USA Outdoor Championships and 2007 Pan American Games, was fifth in a comfortable 8:26.47, while Spence — a Princeton-turned-pro who resides in Ogden and trains with Weber State — was 12th of the 14 finalists at 8:34.84.