WSU athlete's performance leads to Olympic Trials

Weber State University senior Brett Hales competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association finals for men’s outdoor track and field. Hales took fifth overall on Friday night in the steeplechase. He also ran his personal best with a time of 8 minutes 37 seconds. Hales’ performances this year have also earned him a place in the Olympic trials next summer.

Hales has worked hard all year to make it to the finals. He had to miss them last year because of his wedding, and said he is proud of the races he has run this year.

“It’s gratifying and relieving to place fifth,” Hales said. “I had made the finals last year, but I skipped them to get married. This entire year I have been thinking, ‘I have got to get back to finals. I have got to get what I should have gotten last year.’ It was a relief to get there, and when I was there I just felt really comfortable. That is where I belong. I was confident in my ability. To have competed and run a personal best — I was so happy about it. There are no regrets at all. It’s great to finish the season on top and achieving greater standards.”

WSU distance coach Paul Pilkington said Hales ran an outstanding race.

“He moved up really well the last few 800-meters,” Pilkington said. “He was in about 10th place with two laps to go before moving up, so he finished the race very strong. It’s a great way to finish his track career, with first-team All-American honors.”

Hales’ performances have accomplished many record-breaking statuses and titles. He recently won a Big Sky Conference title in the steeplechase. During the conference championship, Hales received the title of Male Outstanding Performer. He has beaten his personal best. He has broken WSU records, ranking seventh in WSU history. He has also qualified to compete at the Olympic trials next summer.

“One of my goals was to make it to the Olympic trials,” Hales said. “I have been thinking this year, as long as I can make it to the trials and have a chance to compete against not only the college best, but the world’s best — having chances like that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and one that I really wanted to get to.”

Pilkington said Hales was a great leader through his example and work ethic.

“He won the conference championship and had the outstanding performance in the meet,” Pilkington said. “He is a leader in terms of his work effort. The young guys watch him and he kind of sets the standard for them. That is what we expect of the juniors and seniors, to take the younger guys under their wings and help develop them.”

Hales has brought his track and field season at WSU to a successful conclusion. Although he placed fifth in the nation, he said he still feels as though he came out on top.

“It’s so hard to describe the feeling you get after the race,” Hales said. “I was floating. People say, ‘Well, you took fifth.’ In track, there are personal accomplishments, and so taking fifth in my mind is like I won. I moved up on Weber’s top-10 lists, I achieved personal goals, I qualified for Olympic trials, so in my mind I took first.”