Am I Dreaming? Wilkinson Nears Qualification for Olympics


"Am I dreaming? Somebody wake me up because I can't believe it. This is unreal. This whole season has been unreal."

Minnetonka alum Matthew Wilkinson qualified for his first Team USA roster spot on Sunday night at the US Olympic Trials in the 3000m steeplechase. Wilkinson, earned the spot on Team USA by finishing second in the final in Eugene, Ore., at Hayward Field. Wilkinson finished with a time of 8:23 flat, finishing only behind Kenneth Rooks. 

Though Wilkinson owns the roster spot with Team USA, he has not yet officially qualified for the 2024 Olympic games in Paris. According to official Olympic qualifying procedures, an athlete who doesn't meet the Olympic qualification standard could still make the cut if they are high enough in World Athletics' world rankings. The full U.S. Olympic track and field delegation is not scheduled to be set until July 7.A total of 36 athletes will qualify for the Olympics in the steeplechase, with Wilkinson's world ranking sitting at No. 36, as of June 18. Wilkinson's top eligible time of 8:16.59 is just shy of the Olympic standard (8:15.00). 

2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Men's 3000m Steeplechase Results

1Kenneth Rooks8:21.92
2Matt Wilkinson8:23.00
3James Corrigan8:26.78
4Evan Jager8:28.73
5Yasin Sado8:29.04

An eight-time All-American while competing in cross country and track & field at Carleton, Wilkinson won a pair of NCAA individual track titles while competing for the Knights, capping his senior year with first-place finishes in both the steeplechase (8:47.39) and 5000-meter run (13:55.27). After graduating from Carleton, he competed for the University of Minnesota (NCAA Division I) while pursuing his master of public health - epidemiology.

At the University of Minnesota, Wilkinson became a two-time Big Ten champion. Wilkinson was the Big Ten's Track Athlete of the Championships in 2023 after winning the 3000m steeplechase and the 5000m for the Maroon and Gold. He went on to finish fifth at the 2023 NCAA Championships, and sixth at the USATF Championships in the steeplechase. He left the 'U' with the No. 2 time in program history in the steeplechase (8:23.69) and the No. 2 time in the 5000m (13:35.45).

Despite his remarkable achievements in collegiate track and field, Wilkinson faced challenges during his high school career. Competing in Section 6AA, known as one of the toughest sections in Minnesota, he never qualified for the Minnesota State Track and Field Championships. However, his senior season was particularly impressive, finishing 5th in the 1600m with a high school PR of 4:19.62 and 4th in the 3200m with a HS PR of 9:15.70, both at Sections. 

Also a standout cross country runner, Wilkinson qualified for the State Cross Country Championships his junior and senior seasons, notching finishes of 13th his junior season and 7th his senior season. His senior season he also competed as the Nike Cross Heartland Regional, finishing 19th overall with his high school 5K PR of 15:31.80. 

Wilkinson's journey to the Olympics is a testament to his remarkable talent and perseverance. From his early days competing in Section 6AA in Minnesota, where he faced tough competition and narrowly missed qualifying for the state championships, to his outstanding collegiate career at Carleton and the University of Minnesota, where he achieved numerous accolades and set impressive records, Wilkinson has consistently demonstrated his passion for the sport and his unwavering determination to succeed.

As Wilkinson continues his pursuit of Olympic qualification, he carries with him the support of his fans, teammates, and coaches, who have witnessed his incredible journey from high school standout to collegiate star to Olympic hopeful. With his sights set on Paris, Wilkinson's journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring athletes everywhere, showing that with hard work, dedication, and a dream, anything is possible.