BATON ROUGE, La. – Ole Miss track & field senior Kristel van den Berg took charge at just the right moment, winning her first career conference title in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase to lead the Rebels at Day Two of the 2023 SEC Outdoor Championships on Friday.
van den Berg – a senior native of The Netherlands – looked calm and confident as the third member of the lead pack for the entire race, but right before the bell she made her move to the front. She was starting to pad her lead by the second hurdle following the bell, when Arkansas teammates Laura Taborda and Gracie Hyde both collided with the barrier – allowing van den Berg to amass an even larger lead on her last lap.
van den Berg crossed the line in a nine-second PR and new school record of 9:56.56, helped greatly by a blistering 73-second final lap that was five seconds faster than any lap in the race by the rest of the field.
“My coach told me to be conservative and not go out too hard in the beginning, and if I felt for it to go at like 600 meters,” van den Berg said. “I felt good, and I heard all the cheering (in the stands). I was just like ‘this is my last chance to ever win an SEC track title,’ so I just went for it, and I did it.”
The win is just the second SEC steeplechase title in Ole Miss women’s history, joining Shelby Brown’s 2018 victory. Coincidentally, the school record that van den Berg took down belonged to Brown from the same 2018 season, a 9:58.98 from the 2018 Mt. SAC Relays.
In addition to the school record, van den Berg’s winning time ranks as the seventh-fastest in Dutch history, as well as the top time in the Netherlands in 2023.
Hannah Ielfield contributed a crucial point to the Ole Miss tally that ended Day Two in second at 45 points behind No. 3 Arkansas (61). Ielfield finished eighth in the steeplechase at a new PR of 10:43.72, improving on her spot at No. 11 in Ole Miss history.
All-American senior Jalani Davis continued to have an excellent meet for the Rebel women, claiming her second silver medal of the weekend with a runner-up finish in the shot put. Davis tossed an outdoor career-best 17.94m/58-10.25, which improves on her place at No. 3 in Ole Miss history and moves her into a tie for No. 8 in the NCAA and No. 3 in the East Region.
Davis already has 16 SEC points and two…
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