Kenneth Rooks’ long and magical track season continued at the world track and field championships in Budapest on Saturday morning. Rooks, who will begin his senior season at BYU next month, advanced to the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Rooks and the reigning world and Olympic champion, Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco, crossed the finish line together to win the second heat, and they didn’t have to expend much energy to do it. The second heat was stacked — it consisted of the No. 1-, 3- and 6th-ranked runners in the world — but it turned into a slow tactical affair, with Rooks and El Bakkali clocking a leisurely time of 8:23.66.

The first heat was won by world record holder Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia in 8:15.89, and the third heat was won by Getnet Wale, also of Ethiopia, in 8:19.99. Fifteen runners advanced to the final, which will be held Tuesday night (Budapest is eight hours ahead of mountain daylight time).

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Rooks came out of nowhere this season to win the NCAA championships and the USA championships, the latter after falling. His most notable accomplishment before the 2023 season was a sixth-place finish in the 2022 NCAA championships. Now he finds himself in the world championships final after advancing in the first international race of his life.

In other local news: Chari Hawkins, the former Utah State All-American, is in third place in the closely contested seven-event heptathlon competition. After four events, the USA’s Anna Hall is the leader with 3,998, followed by Germany’s Katarina Thompson with 3,905 points and Hawkins with 3,900 points.

In a field of 23 athletes, Hawkins was third in the 100-meter hurdles (13.04), third in the high jump (6 feet), sixth in the shot put (14.40 meters) and ninth in the 200-meter dash (24.38). The remaining three events will be contested Sunday.

Simon Plourde, a Canadian who completed her eligibility at the University of Utah in the spring, finished 10th in the third of four heats in the 1,500-meter run and failed to advance to the final. Her time of 4:07.04 was just short of her personal record of 4:06.47.

Osama Zoghlami, of Italy, center, races in a heat of the Men’s 3000-meters steeplechase during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. | Petr David Josek, Associated Press