Minnetonka Alumni Matt Wilkinson Wins National Championship

Photos courtesy of Teresa Brubaker


National Champion has a pretty nice ring to it, doesn't it? How about a two-time National Champion? That is precisely what Carleton runner and Minnetonka alumni Matt Wilkinson has now accomplished. 

Wilkinson went into the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships as the odds on favorite in both the 3000m steeplechase and the 5k. Before the meet, Wilkinson was the DIII national leader in the 5k with a time of 13:58.25 and had run the third-fastest 3000m steeplechase time in DIII history with a time of 8:44.01. 

1. Peter KosgeiHamilton8:43.78
2. Jim GathjeSaint Johns8:43.93
3. Matt WilkinsonCarleton8:44.01

So to say he was the favorite might've been a bit of an understatement, but as anyone would tell you, winning two long-distance races against national competition isn't easy to accomplish. At least that's how it normally is. 

Wilkinson first took to the track for the 3000m steeplechase. He took the lead on the second lap and never looked back on his way to a dominant performance. He clocked a time of 8:47.39 and won by 20.65 seconds. His time was just four seconds off the DIII championship record. 

After cruising to victory in the 3000m steeplechase, it was time for Wilkinson to complete the double and attempt to be a two-time national champion. 

And just like the steeplechase, it ended up not being much of a competition. Wilkinson took the lead a few laps into the race and cruised to victory with a time of 13:55.27. He won the competition by 15.01 seconds and was just 0.27 seconds off the DIII Championship record time. 

His performance in the 5k ended up being one of the best ever for Divison III:

1. Dhruvail PatelNorth Central13:51.40
2. Dale KramerCarleton13:53.20
3. Dan HendersonWheaton13:55.00
4. Matt WilkinsonCarleton13:55.27
5. Ian LamereUniversity of Wisconsin- Platteville13:56.76

Wilkinson, only a junior, has another year of eligibility left to attempt to break either or both of the records in the 3000m steeplechase, and the 5k.