Henry and Hardy compete in NCAA finals

Weber State University’s Amber Henry competed in the track and field NCAA National Championships last week in Des Moines, Iowa. Henry finished 11th in the final race.

Henry, a junior from Wyoming, was one of 14 runners who qualified for the finals of the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.

On Wednesday, Henry won her heat of the semifinals with a time of 10:6.08. Her time was the seventh-best of the 24 runners in the two semifinal heats.

Henry came into the meet nursing multiple injuries. She had a broken clavicle, a torn meniscus and a bruised femur bone. Paul Pilkington, assistant track and field coach, said he was impressed with Henry’s ability to run with so many injuries.

“Most athletes with her injuries wouldn’t even be here,” Pilkington said. “She’s so mentally strong that she just put the pain away and ran. She came into it with three hours of rest and had to run again 48 hours later. Her knee was pretty sore.”

During the finals race, Henry sustained another injury, a dislocated elbow. She hit one of the barriers during the race and fell, causing the injury. Henry used her jersey as a sling and caught back up with the pack. Following that lap, she popped her elbow back into place and finished the race.

“Everybody thought she had broken her arm,” Pilkington said. “Everyone kind of gasped when she got it back into place, then cheered her on. What an unbelievably tough competitor.”

Henry’s 11th-place finish in the finals was good enough to earn her Second Team All-American honors.

Henry wasn’t the only WSU athlete competing at the championships. Mike Hardy competed in the 3,000-meter men’s steeplechase. Hardy ran a career-best time of 8:50.23 and finished in 13th place. Hardy was named to the All-American Honorable Mention list following his race.

Pilkington was also named Region Assistant Coach of the Year last week by the US Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. Pilkington is the head coach for men’s and women’s cross-country and the assistant track and field coach, in charge of the distance runners. He was in Iowa with Henry last week as she competed in the championships.

With the close of the season, Pilkington’s and Henry’s attention will now shift to preparing for the upcoming cross-country season, which gets under way in early September.