Steeple

Rocky River senior Samantha Coleman recently ran the 13th-best time in the nation for high school girls.

It might sound as if someone is making fun of Samatha Coleman having the best time in an event when only one other school has it.

But her time of 7:25.64 in the 2k steeplechase – and it was the first time she had run it – was good enough for the Rocky River High School senior to qualify for the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals at legendary Heyward Field at the University of Oregon.

Her time at the annual Centerville Elk Relays was almost 23 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Lebanon's Abby Taylor. Third place was 53 seconds behind.

Her time was 13th best in the country this year. She is just 5 seconds from being in the top seven of the country.

Lilly Shapiro of national power Colt Necks High School in New Jersey finished first at 6:41.07.

“Centerville is a high school that has a steel water jump installed on their track,” Patrick Coleman, her father, said. “They run a couple of meets a year where they run a steeplechase and, you know we're going to give it a try and Sam ran it and she ran very well. So I think she's excited to do it more.”

Her father said it started in 2017 while watching Emma Coburn in the World Championships. He said his daughter turned to him and said when she got older, she wanted to try it.

“Honestly, I remember watching it,” Samatha said laughing. “I don't remember specifically saying that. But I was definitely interested in it because it seems so different from all the other races.”

Running track since the seventh grade, Sam has been a mainstay for the Rocky River track team. In her career, she has the third-best time in both the 1600 meters (5:05.42) and 3200 meters (11:01.1) in school history. She was also part of the seventh-best time in the 4x400, and the eighth best in the 4x800.

Last fall, she signed a letter of intent to run track at The Ohio State University.

With few high schools having the steeplechase, it wasn't until a few months ago that Sam decided to try it. She asked her dad, who ran the event for the OSU track team from 1990-1995, to help.

“He started teaching me how to hurdle about a year ago,” she said. “I've just been kind of practicing randomly since then. Up until my race I was practicing.”

Sam took up steeplechase, and college choice, on her own without pressure from her father.

“That was all Sam’s decision, I promise,” Patrick said. “There was no pressure from dad on that one. She really respects (OSU) Coach (Sara) Vergote, and connected with her right away. She loved the girls on the team, and the general vibe on her recruiting visit in October.”

Sam is not only a solid athlete, but an excellent student as well. She scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. She did, however, take three tries to get that perfect mark, but most students would be envious of either of the first two.

“I got like a 34 and then a 35,” she said. “After the second time, I was like, OK, I'm going to take it again. And then we had our free one at school. My counselor was like, ‘Oh, you might as well take it and just see what happens.’ So then I got the 36, which is really cool.”

Contact this reporter at blove@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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