Hundreds gather to cheer Evan Jager’s appearance in Olympic finals (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

ALGONQUIN — The live Internet stream had frozen several times during the 3,000-meter men’s steeplechase race, to groans from the more than 300 people who packed out Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar on Randall Road to watch the Olympic event.

But the crowd cheered instead as television screens around the restaurant froze on the one glorious moment Algonquin native Evan Jager cleared one of seven water jumps in the race, landing ahead of the pack.

Jager finished sixth after several Kenyan and Ethiopian runners sprinted to the lead and the unthinkable happened: defending Olympic champion Brimin Kapruto of Kenya fell in front of the 23-year-old American.

And Kevin Christian, head cross-country and assistant track coach at H.D. Jacobs High School, said, “You can’t complain about sixth in the world.”

“He led it, and it was great, and he’s only going to get better. He’s got one or two more Olympics, and he’ll go, and he’ll only get better.”

Christian had helped organize the community gathering Sunday afternoon at Buffalo Wild Wings, just across Randall Road from the sign at Jacobs. On Sunday, it read, “Evan Jager / 2007 HDJ grad / 2012 Olympian.”

He had been assistant cross-country coach when Jager was a junior at Jacobs, and, he said, he had suggested the track star try steeplechase when he went away to the University of Wisconsin, an event that is not run in Illinois. He since has followed former Wisconsin coach Jerry Schumacher to Portland, Ore., and joined the Oregon Track Club.

For the rest of the story (as well as a photo gallery, video and an explanation of the steeplechase), read Hundreds gather to cheer Evan Jager’s appearance in Olympic finals (Sun-Times Media).

For sports coverage of Evan Jager’s Olympic finish, read Olympics: Evan Jager finishes sixth in steeplechase (Sun-Times Media).