Battle Mountain grad Val Constien competing for an Olympic spot in steeplechase | VailDaily.com
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Battle Mountain grad Val Constien competing for an Olympic spot in steeplechase

Thursday event will be live streamed on NBCSN

Val Constien runs for Battle Mountain High School in the 2013-14 school year. Constien, who went on to star at the University of Colorado, is vying for an Olympic bid in steeplechase.
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Battle Mountain High School class of 2014 graduate Val Constien is set to compete in the track and field Olympic trials Thursday.

Constien’s event, the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase, will be streamed live on NBCSN along with women’s shot put starting at 7 p.m. at stream.nbcolympics.com/track-and-field-trials-day-7

Constien has a good shot at making the team, according to experts, including Chris Chavez of the popular running podcast Citius Max.



Chavez featured Constien on his show recently, where he said the third of three women’s steeplechase Olympic Team spots “could be up for grabs behind Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, but then again, you just never know with a steeplechase race.”

Unpredictable race

Steeplechase is indeed an unpredictable race, as it features burlier hurdles than the standard track and field style hurdle, which a runner will kick over, or sometimes through, if not negotiated properly. While a 110-meter hurdle will span one lane, a steeplechase hurdle spans several lanes of track.

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On the other side of a steeplechase hurdle, a pool of water of a sloped depth greets runners. At its deepest point closest to the hurdle, the water is more than 2 feet deep. The sport originated in Ireland with horses before humans decided to give it a go.

In most areas of the U.S., steeplechase is not part of the high school track and field program. But there are plenty of running and jumping events in high school track and field, and Constien excelled in both.

“In track she competed in the high jump, triple jump, middle distance and distance events,“ Randy Wyrick wrote in a 2016 profile of Constien in the Vail Daily. ”Her success in field events raised some eyebrows among the college coaches recruiting her: Brown, Iowa State, Nebraska and a dozen others.“

Upon deciding on the University of Colorado, Constien signed a letter of intent which indicated, among other things, that she would try the steeplechase.

“I trust the coaches at CU so much,” Constien told Wyrick. “They may make a suggestion, but I take it and run with it.”

Excelling after college

Physical and mental health issues troubled Constien in her earlier college years, however, which was the subject of much of her interview with Chavez.

Constien said a series of compounding events which started with a desire to be faster began to catch up with her a couple of years into college — an eating disorder, a broken foot due to the bone density problems which accompanied the eating disorder, depression due to not being able to run from the broken foot, all plagued her for years, but by her fifth year of college, she said, she was past most of it.

“Going into my fourth year of college, I was better, things got better, and I was able to take that momentum into my fifth year,” Constien told Chavez.

Constien’s fifth year of college was a monumental one, as the CU women’s cross-country team won a national championship, and she made NCAA All-American in the steeplechase.

Constien found more challenges following college, and also made the decision to try to take on both full-time work and training. But over the past few months, everything has been coming together, she told Chavez, and she’s been able to post a personal-best time of 9 minutes, 25 second in the steeplechase which, as Chavez pointed out, is fastest enough for 14th in the world at the moment.

Constien said she tries not to follow the rankings.

“At the end of the day … I just want to run fast,” Constien said. “I love this so much, and that’s the only reason I’m doing it. There’s no other motive.”


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