UNK’s Arens earns All-American honors in Steeple

UNK's Ben Arens
UNK's Ben Arens(UNK Athletics)
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 9:21 PM CDT
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ALLENDALE, Mich. (Press Release) - Nebraska-Kearney distance runners Ben Arens, Myles Bach and Luke Stuckey competed Thursday at the 2022 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships in Allendale, Mich.

The three-day meet is being hosted by Grand Valley State for a second consecutive year. As expected, weather altered the schedule; the last four events (400 hurdles & 10,000-meter run) were pushed back due to lightening. Also, early rain made things humid (70%) in the afternoon.

Arens (Ainsworth) will be an All-American in the steeplechase as he turned in a career-best 8:52.43 to be fifth in the first heat and 11th overall. The top four finishers in each heat, plus the next four best times, reached the finals in both the steeple and 1,500-meter run.

Joining Ivan Ivanov (1995 & 1996), James White (1997) and Deen Johnson (1998) as Loper All-Americans in the steeple, Arens used a late push to secure a finals spot. He was seventh at 2,200-meter mark but used a 1:05.05 closing time to pass two runners and almost catch Ryan Hartman of Augustana (8:52.424) for the heat’s last automatic spot. Officially, Arens ran an 8:52.426.

Northwest Missouri’s Reece Smith had the top time (8:48.38) with Hartman ranking eighth. A top eight finish on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. Central is good for first-team accolades with nine through 12 making the second-team. Finally, only Ivanov (8:51.52; 5/23/96) has had a better time than Arens in school history. 

In the 1,500 prelims in the late afternoon, Stuckey (McCool Junction) also closed fast (55.49) but missed making the finals and earning his third All-American honor by just 0.27 seconds. He was sixth in his heat and 14th overall. His time of 3:47.61 was literally just behind 12th place Paul Kraemer of Embry-Riddle, Fla. (3:47.34) and was one of five between 3:47.00-3:47.75. Charlie Dannatt of Simon Fraser (Can.) led the way with a 3:42.78 with teammate AaronAhl at 3:42.79.

Finally, to close out the night, Bach (Cedar Rapids, Ia.) started fast in aiming to join Bobby Brindamour (1994) as UNK’s only 10k All-Americans. Less than 100 percent healthy, he was in the top three over the first 2,400 meters but ended up 21st (31:20.15). Dillon Powell of Colorado School of Mines (28:44.97) was the national champ with Robbie Schmidt of Fort Hays coming in 12th (29:49.66) to be the last AA. 

Besides Arens, Brayden Sorensen (high jump), Anna Squires (discus) and Wes Ferguson (800-meter prelims compete on Saturday. Rain is again in the forecast. 

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