By Colleen Thomas, Daily Sports Editor
Published June 10, 2012
With 400 meters to go, fifth-year senior Craig Forys was sitting in fourth place in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday, looking to pass Ohio State’s Cory Leslie down the homestretch for third place. Princeton’s Donn Cabral and Texas A&M’s Henry Lelei were strides ahead of the chase pack, so they had to fight it out for third.
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But Lelei tripped over the final barrier and Forys out-kicked Leslie to claim second place in his final race in a Michigan jersey.
Cabral won the national title in a time of 8:35.44 with Forys just five seconds behind, finishing in 8:40.66.
“It felt awesome crossing the line,” Forys said. “I was a little bit down and out with a few laps to go so I felt really lucky to pass a few there and finish behind Donn.”
The race began slower than usual, with a tight pack running a relaxed race.
“The first time anything really of value happened was with 1,000 meters to go,” Forys said. “Donn Cabral went to the front of the pack and set the pace. He and Henry Lelei basically separated right away from a few of us. I was stuck behind with a couple of guys doing a chase pack together.”
Not keeping pace with Cabral proved a smart move for Forys, as he ended up having enough left to out-kick the other runners in the peloton.
In addition to winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, Forys ends his career as a first-team All-American runner — his second All-American honor.
“(My career) was pretty wild looking back,” Forys said. “There was a while there where it didn’t look like I would do anything with my career at Michigan. It’s great to turn it around in the past couple of years and graduate with a few accolades to my name.
“It was a roller coaster ride. Lots of ups and downs and you never know what’s going to come around the next corner. There’s nothing else to do but show up to practice.”
ARATSU, 4x400 OUT EARLY: In track, every second counts. And in the case of sophomore Ali Aratsu, five hundreths of a second counts, too.
Aratsu was beaten by Ohio State’s Antonio Blanks in Wednesday’s semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles. Blanks edged Aratsu by 0.05 seconds to clinch the last spot in the finals, but Aratsu’s performance earned him second-team All-American accolades.
The Wolverines’ 4x400-meter relay also competed in Des Moines, placing 19th in a time of 3:07.03. Nick Neuman, Aaron Taylor, Matthew Campbell and Philip Washington each earned All-American Honorable Mention for their performances.