Berriatua Caps Track & Field Career at NCAA West Preliminary Meet

Joey Berriatua competed in the seventh postseason race in Bronco history on Friday night.
Joey Berriatua competed in the seventh postseason race in Bronco history on Friday night.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Santa Clara track & field's Joey Berriatua ran his 42nd career race for the Broncos and his first race in the postseason on Friday night at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships. The redshirt senior posted a 9:01.70 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in his final collegiate competition at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium. Berriatua took 12th place in his 16-man heat and 34th place in the field of 48.

The top three runners from each heat and the runners who posted the three fastest times from the remaining field advanced to the NCAA National Championship.

Berriatua kept pace with the pack for most of the eight-lap race. He was less than half of a second off the lead after the third and fourth laps. Toward the latter run, he maintained less than a two-second gap with then-leader Brian Barraza (Houston). Barraza took second place to advance along with section-winner Andrew Gardner (Washington) and Jordan Cross (Weber State), who took third.

"Joey put himself in a position to qualify, but the final 1,000-meter stretch was tough and it just wasn't his day," head coach Felipe Montoro said. "This was arguably the deepest and fastest year in history for the steeple. I'm really proud of Joey for being a part of it.

"I'm even more proud of him for how he has represented the university during his time as a Bronco."

The San Mateo, California native finishes his run on the Mission campus with program records in three events — 1,500 meters, 3,000-meter steeplechase and 5,000 meters.

Berriatua was the fifth Bronco to qualify for an NCAA preliminary meet and first since Mary Kriege (5,000m, 10,000m) and Grayson Murphy (3,000m steeplechase, 5,000m) each qualified for a pair of events in 2016. Berriatua was the third Bronco men's runner to reach the second season, following in the footsteps of Kevin Oliver (10,000m – 2013) and Michael Delaurenti (3,000m steeplechase – 2008).

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