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BYU track and field star Kenneth Rooks turns pro, signs with Nike

Kenneth Rooks crosses the finish line to win the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final during the U.S. track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, July 8, 2023.
Kenneth Rooks crosses the finish line to win the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final during the U.S. track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, July 8, 2023. | Ashley Landis, Assocaited Press

Kenneth Rooks is running down his dream.

The BYU track and field star has elected to forgo his remaining college eligibility and turn pro, he announced through social media Tuesday. Rooks has already signed on to represent Nike.

“I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a student-athlete at Brigham Young University and represent the Y,” Rooks wrote in an Instagram post. “It is bittersweet to announce that I have chosen to forgo my remaining eligibility for track and field and cross-country at BYU and pursue my running career professionally.”

Rooks dominated with the Cougars, earning First Team All-American honors three times. He holds three top-10 BYU records: No. 1 in the steeplechase (8:17.62); No. 1 as part of a distance medley relay team (9:21.18); and No. 7 in the indoor mile (3:59.65).

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Most famously, Rooks took home the 2023 NCAA individual title in the steeplechase, then captured the crown for the same event at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

His performance in the USA win went viral as Rooks suffered an early fall before recovering to storm back and finish first.

The Walla Walla, Washington, native will remain in Provo and continue his training with BYU men’s track and field coach Ed Eyestone.

“I’m excited for this new chapter in Kenneth Rooks’ running career because at the college level he did just about everything that we could have asked of him,” Eyestone told the Church News. “Now it’s time for him to take that next step. He’s shown that he can dominate the college scene, and he can be very competitive at the national scene. Now it’s time for him to take another big step onto the world scene.”