Carbondale runner 3rd at nationals |

Carbondale runner 3rd at nationals

Elizabeth SeverySpecial to The Aspen Times
Racers in the women's 3,000 meter steeplechase negotiate a water pit during the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Carson, Calif., Sunday. From left, it's Briana Shook, who finished fourth, Ann Gaffigan, Dawn Cromer, Carbondale's Carrie Messner, who finished third, and winner Elizabeth Jackson. AP photo/Kevork Djansezian.

Carbondale runner Carrie Messner finished third in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Carson, Calif., on Sunday – good enough to qualify for the World Championships.The worlds will be held Aug. 6-14 in Helsinki, Finland, and this year marks the first time that women’s steeplechase will be included in the showcase event. Messner, 28, a former University of Colorado distance runner, started running steeplechase a year-and-a-half ago. Now she holds the fifth-fastest time ever for an American – a blazing 9 minutes, 41.37 seconds, the time she posted at nationals. Messner finished just a second-and-a-half behind winner Elizabeth Jackson (9:39.78) and runner-up Lisa Galaviz (9:40.58). She was tied with Jackson for the lead with 200 meters to go, but had a little trouble with the final water pit.”I landed a little deep and lost a lot of my momentum,” Messner said.

Overall though, her momentum is building as she heads toward the World Championships.”It’s still a fairly new event for me,” she said. “It’s a good learning experience. I won’t make that mistake in the last water pit again.”Messner will be heading to Greece and Belgium for Grand Prix meets in July. Competition in Europe, Messner said, is tougher than in the United States. And she hopes a month overseas will give her time to acclimate to both the time change and the faster competition before the worlds.

Messner said she is thrilled to represent the United States in the debut of women’s steeplechase on the world circuit.”It’s a very talented team – one of the top teams in the world as a group,” Messner said. The fastest time in the world this year is a blistering 9:15, and Messner is shooting for a competitive finish at worlds. She is confident that her time can improve drastically before the big meet.”You can always work on technique and find places to put time back,” she said. “I always see a lot of areas that I can get time back.”

But competition at worlds will be the stiffest Messner has seen, and she thinks the fast pace will push her to her best time yet.”Heck, I wanna win it,” she said. “I’m really looking to make my final and be competitive.”Messner said she is especially excited to be a competitor at this year’s World Championships, which will put women’s steeplechase on the map. The women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase’s absence from world competition is notable especially because the men’s event has been a fixture at the Olympics and worlds.”We’re just excited to be able to go over and get it established,” Messner said. “The fact that it’s 2005 and we’re still trying to get this put in kind of sucks.”