EUGENE, Ore. – Former Wayland Baptist Pioneer Benard Keter will be headed to Japan as part of Team USA later this summer, qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics today in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
At the U.S. Olympic Trials, Keter – who after Wayland competed at Texas Tech and who has spent the last few years running for the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program – finished second in Friday’s race with a time of 8 minutes, 21.81 seconds, only about half-a-second behind the winner, Hillary Bor, who broke the tape in 8:21.34.
In the preliminaries Monday, Keter topped 13 other runners in his heat with a time of 8:29.04. By far, Keter’s was the slowest of two heats, with the first heat providing the fastest 10 times. That means Keter’s qualifying time was just the 11th fastest of the day.
But Keter was up to the challenge Friday evening as he was runner-up in the 14-runner field.
Keter’s qualification means Wayland will be represented by two former student-athletes. Tamyra Mensah-Stock will also be in Tokyo competing in women’s wrestling.
Keter becomes the sixth Pioneer track & field athlete to qualify for the Olympics, and the first for the U.S. Other WBU Olympians, their event and places are: Billy Konchellah (Kenya), 1984, 800 meters, 4th place; Moses Ugbisie (Nigeria), 1984, 4×400 relay, bronze medalist; Devon Morris (Jamaica), 1988, 4×400, silver medalist; Morris, 1984, 400, quarterfinalist; Morris, 1984, 4×400 relay, semifinalist; Zakayo Malekwa (Tanzania), 1980, 1984, 1988, javelin; Isa Phillips (Jamaica), 2008, 400 hurdles, semifinalist.
Four women who competed for Wayland have participated in the Olympics: Mwinga Sote (Tanzania), 1984, 3,000, semifinalist; Nzael Kyomo (Tanzania), 1980, 200, quarterfinalist; Kyomo, 1980, 100, first round; Kyomo, 1984, 200, quarterfinalist; Kyomo, 1984, 100, quarterfinalist; Tigist Moreda (Ethiopia), 1992, 10,000 meters, 8th place; Janelle Redhead (Grenada), 2012, 200, semifinalist.
Former WBU Flying Queen Cherri Rapp competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in women’s basketball. (Jill Rankin qualified for the U.S. boycotted-1980 Moscow Olympics.)
Back to Keter, a native of Molo, Kenya, who competed at Wayland during the 2014-15 academic year after transferring from Cloud County Community College (Kan.). As a Pioneer, Keter won the NAIA National Cross Country Championships in 2014 before placing second the following year.
In track and field, Keter was a two-time national champion at Wayland, winning the indoor 5,000 and the steeplechase outdoors while also placing third in the indoor 3,000 and outdoor 10,000. Keter still holds the Wayland record in the 3,000 steeplechase, 8:42.94, set while winning the NAIA title in 2015 in Gulf Shores, Ala.
WBU finished second as a team both indoors and outdoors in 2015.
Keter went on to compete at Texas Tech, winning multiple Big 12 distance and cross country titles and finishing 10th in 2016 and sixth in 2017 in the steeplechase.