Southwest’s Basten comes up short of Olympic bid
By Greg Bates
EUGENE, Ore. – Alec Basten lived out a dream of competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials.
But another dream of qualifying for the Olympics came up short for the former Green Bay Southwest standout runner.
Basten raced in the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., June 25.
He placed 10th overall with the top three racers advancing to the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“It was a crazy experience,” he said. “I’m glad I was able to get there. The whole experience, you competed against guys you watched on television doing these races for a while. We had COVID-19 testing all the time, and you’d go in there and you’d see world champs.”
Basten, who will be a redshirt senior at the University of Minnesota, said he was a little star-struck seeing the top-notch athletes, but he kept his composure and raced well.
In the first round of the 3,000-meter steeplechase June 21, he took fourth in his heat and fourth overall among 29 competitors.
He logged a personal-best time of 8:22.22 to automatically qualify for the steeplechase final four days later.
Basten had some time to rest and prepare for the biggest race of his life.
Heading into the final, Basten said he was confident but knew it would be a tough race.
“I wouldn’t say I thought I had to run a crazy race, but I knew I would have had to run the best race of my season,” Basten said. “Maybe being a bit tired from the prelims, maybe in a bad spot and a bit of bad luck in the hurdles.”
Basten finished in 8:33.32, about 12 seconds behind the winner, Hillary Bor, in 8:21.34.
“It wasn’t my best race, so I have a sour taste in my mouth, but it’s bittersweet,” Basten said. “Tenth place in the nation, you can’t complain about that.”
Basten had qualified for the Olympic Trials by finishing second in 8:29.03 in the NCAA Championships two weeks before the trials.
He knew he had qualified for the trials when he crossed the finish line.
“I was more excited about the second-place finish at that point,” Basten said. “I decided to enjoy that, and then we refocused to get ready for the trials.”
Basten picked up steeplechase as a freshman at Minnesota and had instant success.
He ran the hurdles in middle school, so he used muscle memory from that to help him in his college races.
The 23-year-old has one more year of eligibility at Minnesota.
The next big event Basten is shooting for is the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene in July of next year.
With the Olympic Trials only coming around every four years – the next one is only three years away because the 2020 Olympics were pushed back one year due to the pandemic – Basten might train for that.
He’ll be 26 at that point, which is a prime age for competitors in that event.
“Like it was one day at a time before the finals, it’s the same thing – take it one season at a time,” Basten said. “If it’s in the cards, I would love to be there again.”
Reflecting on his season, Basten said he accomplished some big goals, but he isn’t done yet.
“If anyone would have told me at the beginning of the year I would have run 8:22 and made the Olympic Trials final, that would have been amazing for me,” Basten said. “My coach told me, ‘At the end of the day, there are only three people who go away from that meet happy.’ It was a special experience.”