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Falcon chases after last opportunity for nationals

May 8, 2008

Senior track athlete Jason Phillippi may have accomplished a lot in four years of running, but his goal of running in a national championship still remains, and this weekend will be his last chance to qualify for it.

“I’ve kind of accomplished pretty much everything, I just want to make it to a national meet, that’s my big goal,” Phillippi said. “And it’d be nice to steal an All-American award there.”

Phillippi holds four UW-River Falls track records for the indoor 1,000-meter race, mile and distance medley, and has one outdoor record in the steeplechase. Phillippi won the steeplechase at the Phil Esten Challenge April 14 in La Crosse, in preparation for the WIAC meet.

“The one at Phil Esten was just a tune up before conference, didn’t really have much competition at all,” Phillippi said. “I just kind of ran to get used to steepling, not for a time or anything like that.”

Phillippi followed up his win at the Phil Esten Challenge with his personal best finish in the WIAC meet in his four years at UWRF.

“At conference I was seated like sixth or seventh with that time from the previous meet,” Phillippi said. “I wanted to try to win or get top three, that was my goal. I felt pretty good when I got done.”

Phillippi will now travel down to Naperville, Ill. to run in the Last Chance race at North Central College.

“The last two years he has been one of the first ones left out,” track distance coach Keven Syverson said. “This year’s honor role doesn’t appear as tough, if he can run a good race he has a good opportunity to get there.”

Phillippi has been a provisional qualifier for nationals twice for the steeplechase, and once for the indoor mile. Phillippi is also one of the top runners for the Falcon cross country team, and will run in the fall after sitting out last season.

“We had a couple other top guys sitting out as well, I figured I might as well wait with them,” Phillippi said. “Then come back this fall and be that much stronger, it just made sense.”

Phillippi has one year left before he graduates with a degree in Health and Human Performance. He said after graduation he plans to go where his resumé takes him and said he will continue to run, but he doesn’t know about competitively.

But right now Phillippi is focused on this weekend’s race in Illinois.

“I just want to go down there and run a fast time. If I can run about as fast as last year at the end of the season, that should be enough to hopefully get me into nationals,” Phillippi said. “I just want to get into a fast race with some more competition and just roll with them.”