Allie Ostrander, Boise State’s star runner, is in an unenviable predicament.
The redshirt freshman will compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 5,000-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships on Saturday in Eugene, Ore. And she’ll do it with just 90 minutes between races.
So much for recovery time.
“It’s going to be the last day of my season, so I think it’s just kind of going to be a ‘go for it’ sort of thing,” Ostrander said. “I don’t know if there’s really a way to prepare for that at this point in the season.”
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Ostrander did not participate in the Broncos’ outdoor season in 2016 because of a leg injury that forced her to stop running for nearly three months. She became a steeplechaser as a way to “ease back” into track without having the expectations that came with long-distance running.
Despite having run it only three times, Ostrander finished third in her steeplechase heat Thursday (9:50.55). She also has the 23rd-fastest time (15:56.80) in the 5,000 meters, her bread and butter, despite focusing more on hitting a qualifying time rather than setting a blistering pace this season.
But running them back-to-back? That’s a first.
Since the NCAA Outdoor Championships moved to an alternating gender schedule in 2015, Ostrander will be just the second athlete to run the steeplechase and 5,000 meters, joining Penn State’s Tori Gerlach.
Boise State track and field head coach Corey Ihmels said his star is ready.
“She’s rounding into form. I think she’s capable of being in the top two or three in the steeplechase and probably top two or three in the 5K, too,” Ihmels said.
Ostrander has run the 5,000 meters only three times this season; she was the NCAA runner-up at the 2015 cross country championships and took eighth at the 2016 Olympic Trials in the 5,000. She will be joined by true freshman teammate Clare O’Brien in the 5,000.
“I’m really happy for Allie,” O’Brien said. “I know she’ll go really far.”
Ostrander said she still loves the freshness of a new event like the steeplechase, though she isn’t willing to say she likes it better than the 5,000 meters.
“The steeple is so new and so exciting. It’s been really fun this season,” Ostrander said. “But the 5K is also a really awesome distance, I think. It’s a good physical test. I just can’t decide between the two.”
Luckily, Ostrander doesn’t have to pick favorites this time.
Knowing she will be running two races within hours of each other, Ostrander is prepared to approach Saturday differently. Instead of her longer, more detailed cool-down, she will do an abbreviated version.
“I’m probably just going to eat a little bit and just stretch and roll some and just do a shortened warmup for my next race,” she said.
If there is anyone who can pull off the tough daily double, it’s probably Ostrander, her coach said.
“She’s ready to go this week,” Ihmels said.