Ross Wightman Named All-American with National Third Place Finish in Steeplechase
Chatham High School junior Ross Wightman placed third in the Championship Division of the 2000 meter Steeplechase at the National Scholastic Sports Foundation New Balance Nationals held June 16th in North Carolina.
Ross ran the course in an impressive 6:04.06.
He was seeded at 6:12 and was on the far-outside in a field of nineteen runners at the starting line. He ran to near the front of the pack and maintained a top five position the entire race, which required competitors to hurdle both ordinary barriers and a water obstacle. In the final lap Ross officially had the fastest lap split of any competitor to bring himself from over six seconds behind to within almost two seconds of 2nd place at the finish line.
Ross’s performance at the national level qualifies him as an All-American. He will be receiving an official certificate recognizing his All-American status this month. His achievement will also be honored by the Chatham Central School District Board of Education the evening of June 19th.
“This is an accomplishment of gigantic proportions, especially considering that he is a junior,” said Chatham athletic director Scott Steltz, who added, “Ross is a member of National Honor Society and represents our school in the highest of standards. I believe he is Chatham’s first ever high school All-American.”
Ross had a standout season on the Chatham Panthers track and field team. His road to the 2012 nationals included four 3000 meter steeple chase races, the first at the Patroon Conference Championship on May 17th, where Ross won in 10:16.46. At the Class CC Sectionals on May 26th, Ross survived nearly 100 degree heat on the track to win again in 10:33.74. During the state meet qualifier in Johnstown on June 1st, Ross ran an incredible 9:36.02 to qualify for states and the NSSF New Balance Nationals. His time was a 38 second improvement on a Chatham school record set by Eric French in 2001. The qualifying standard for the Championship Division was 9:48.0 for a 3000 meter Steeple (or 6:18 for 2000 meter). The last was at the NYS Track and Field Championships the weekend of June 8th and 9th, Ross placed 7th in the small school division and 15th overall, running a 9:46.