Allie Ostrander used a courageous last 200 meters to pull away from the field to win the 3,000m steeplechase title at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, June 10. Ostrander ran a 9:41.31 in just her fourth-career steeplechase — good for the third-fastest time in Mountain West history.
“I told her before the race, ‘You’re tougher than anybody else in this race, and you have to show that.’”
– Head Coach Corey Ihmels
The victory makes Ostrander the first freshman to win the steeplechase title since Colorado’s Jenny Simpson did so in 2006. She is also the second freshman to win an individual national title in school history, joining Bill Shaw (1974 – slalom skiing). She has been called “America’s next running phenom” by Newsweek magazine.
“When you’re at a national championship, the win is always the goal,” Ostrander explained after the race. “That’s what people come here to do – they come to be the best in the nation in their forte. So it was definitely in mind (wanting to win), but to actually prepare for it and come perform, it’s always such a blessing. I couldn’t help but be a little surprised that all the pieces fit together today.”
The redshirt freshman quickly moved to the front of the pack at the beginning of the race, setting the tone for what was an honest pace throughout. New Hampshire’s Elinor Purrier and Ostrander eventually separated themselves from the rest of the pack with a couple laps to go, setting the stage for a thrilling final 800 meters.
Purrier momentarily took the lead at the 300-meter mark, but Ostrander responded with a huge kick to reclaim the lead on the final curve. Ostrander cemented the title with a clean jump over the water pit and a perfect hurdle over the final barrier to earn the five-second victory.
“It came down to who wanted it the most, and she did,” head coach Corey Ihmels said. “It was her hurdling that won it for her. Everything that everyone said she wasn’t, she showed otherwise.”
Ostrander is the 10th individual national champion and the seventh track and field national champion in school history. She joins Eleni Kafourou (long jump – 2009) and Emma Bates (10,000m – 2014) as the third woman to win a national title in the Bronco track and field program.
The Kenai, Alaska, native competed in the 5,000m a little more than an hour after her steeplechase victory and put forth a remarkable effort for fourth place. Ostrander stayed in the middle of the pack for the first half of the race, but was able to somewhat match a move made by the eventual winner – Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer.
Freshman Clare O’Brien (16:06.08) also ran in the 5k and took 17th, securing Honorable Mention All-America honors. Ostrander picked up First Team All-America honors in both the steeplechase and the 5,000m, good for the second and third All-America honors of her cross country and track and field career.
In addition, Ostrander’s 15 points from the two races gave Boise State a tie for 13th place in the team standings, tying for the best finish (along with Kent State) for a school from a non-Power Five conference at this year’s championships.
The 15 points is also tied for the most from a single Bronco at an outdoor track and field championship in school history. Emma Bates accumulated 15 points in 2014 after winning the 10,000m title and taking fourth in the 5,000m.