Emilsson Earns All-American Honors in the Steeplechase

June 10, 2005

Sacramento, CA - Junior Erik Emilsson capped off an impressive season with his first All-American honor of his career at UCLA after finishing eighth in the steeplechase with a lifetime-best run of 8:34.80 on day three of the NCAA Championships.

On Wednesday, Emilsson ran a lifetime-best by over three seconds (8:37.07) to advance to today's final and had the run of his life on Saturday as he captured his first All-American honor of his career. Running in the middle of the pack for the majority of the race, Emilsson kept the top-8 runners in his sites. When BYU's Josh McAdams fell on the last lap, Emilsson made his move, and finished eighth overall with another lifetime-best of 8:34.80.

In all, the junior from Sweden dropped his personal-best time (old best 8:40.40) by nearly six seconds and picked up the first points of the championship meet for the Bruin men. His time also moved him to the No. 3 spot all-time at UCLA.

'I'm so excited right now,' said Emilsson. 'I was hoping for a sixth-place finish and I felt strong, but I was a little tired after prelims. Coach Peterson has done a great job at helping me maintain my strength and increase my endurance, and I'm just so excited right now.'

Distance Coach Eric Peterson couldn't be happier about his junior's performance, who has battled back from a season-ending shoulder injury early last season.

'I'm obviously thrilled about Erik's performance this weekend and this season,' said Peterson. 'Last season was devastating for Erik because he was in the best shape of his life when he got hurt, but his performance today reminds me of how much work he has put in the past 12-15 months to be successful. This is by far one of the best distance fields this year at Nationals and to see Erik perform to this level is wonderful.'

'He ran a lifetime-best to get into the final, and ran another lifetime-best to earn All-American honors. I couldn't be happier.'

'It has been a long time since UCLA has scored points in the men's distance races and Erik's performance has helped bring the Bruins back into the national spotlight,' added Peterson.

Sophomore Brandon Johnson and senior Jonathan Williams both advanced to tomorrow's final in the 400m hurdles. Johnson was an automatic qualifier after running the second-fastest time in heat one (48.92, fourth overall, season-best), while Williams advanced to the final with the fourth-fastest time in heat one (49.91, seventh overall).

'This is a load off our shoulders,' said Johnson. 'We don't have to worry about making the finals anymore and now we can just focus on running.'

Williams on making it to the finals with his teammate, Brandon: 'It's always great to have a partner in the finals. We have been training all year for this and have been working so hard. It's so great to be in the final together.'

Johnson and Williams are the sole competitors left for UCLA and both will receive All-American honors on Saturday upon completion of the race.

In the 400m semifinal, junior Craig Everhart finished sixth in his heat (46.44, 12th overall) and will not advance to the finals on Saturday.

Also on Friday, the Pac-10 Conference announced the 2005 All-Academic Team honorees, in which two Bruin men earned accolades for their performances in the classroom and on the track. Emilsson, a newly crowned All-American, was named second team All-Academic Pac-10 (3.34, Business Economics/Political Science). Last week, Emilsson was also named Academic All-District by CoSIDA, and is on the national ballot for Academic All-American. Freshman Austin Ramos also earned Honorable Mention honors.

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