University of Minnesota alum Matt Wilkinson of Minnetonka qualified for his first Team USA roster spot on Sunday night at the US Olympic Trials in the 3000m steeplechase. Wilkinson, who competed with the Gophers from 2021-23, earned the spot on Team USA by finishing second in the final in Eugene, Ore., at Hayward Field.

“Am I dreaming,” Wilkinson said after the race. “Someone come and wake me up, because I can’t believe it. It’s unreal. This whole season has been unreal, making it with these wonderful gentlemen. Absolutely unreal.”

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).

In the preliminary round, Wilkinson was the top qualifier to the US Olympic Trials final with a winning time of 8:20.61 out of heat one. Fellow Gopher Alec Basten also was a qualifier out of the first heat, but Basten was a time qualifier at 8:26.82. In the final Basten, a two-time Big Ten steeplechase champion, finished 14th in a time of 8:44.81.

After a successful Division III career at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., Wilkinson transferred to the University of Minnesota where he went on to become 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).

(info and stock photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)

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