A strange spring has given way to an exciting summer for Boise State distance runner Allie Ostrander.
One of the top young talents in the country, Ostrander redshirted the outdoor track and field season after a tibial stress fracture disrupted her quest for a national title at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
Based off the strength of her Mountain West-record time (15:21.85) in the 5,000 meters at a January meet in Seattle, and a healed leg, Ostrander is back for her first competition in nearly four months. The 19-year-old is the only collegiate runner in her event at the United States Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. She runs Thursday, aiming for a shot at Sunday’s finals.
“I had to take about eight weeks where I was just cross-training, which was really hard,” Ostrander said. “... It was kind of agonizing, especially having to watch people do workouts and make progress forward while I was just sitting on the bike, working so hard knowing I’m losing everything I’d worked for.”
Ostrander was regarded as one of the top recruits to ever sign with the Broncos, and her freshman year backed up the hype. She finished second at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in the fall, and was the Mountain West’s indoor track and field athlete of the year.
The injury forced her to pull out of the 5,000 at indoor nationals and prevented her from attempting her other event, the 3,000. Despite that, Ostrander said her first year on campus “exceeded expectations,” and reaching the Olympic Trials is the cherry on top.
“Just having the opportunity is a huge privilege,” Ostrander said.
Though she is still getting back into what she said was the best shape of her life, Ostrander is running about 50-55 miles a week, a bit behind the 70-75 she was at a few months ago. Dealing with the injury has altered her training, but also could wind up being a silver lining down the road.
“In the long run ... having to sit out, I think she’s grown a little bit, matured a little bit,” Boise State track and field coach Corey Ihmels said.
The prospect of making the Olympics is enticing, and Ostrander said there is no lack of motivation, though she said she has “no expectations,” that competing is a bonus after her time off.
She was quick to say, “I’ll just go back to summer training” when asked about post-Eugene plans.
“She’s going into it with a good frame of mind,” Ihmels said. “The ultimate goal is when she’s a fifth-year senior four years from now, we’re talking about what team she’s going to try to make, and that starts at these trials. It kind of changes who you are, what you think is possible.”
Ihmels said at 19, “I don’t think she’ll think that deeply into it,” but that Ostrander will see what it will take to make an Olympic team. He also hopes it continues to inspire her to push herself to be one of the best in the world.
Already with a successful present, it’s easy to project a bright future for Ostrander. For now, this week is about competing again.
“I’ve missed it for a long time, so I’m excited to get back out there,” Ostrander said.
Ostrander at the U.S. Olympic Trials
▪ Site: Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, Ore.
▪ Women’s 5,000 meters: 5:20 p.m. MDT Thursday; finals are 5:28 p.m. Sunday.
▪ The field: 24 competitors will be split into two heats of 12. The top six fastest times from each heat, and the next four fastest times overall will advance to the final. The top three qualify for next month’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
▪ Watch live online Thursday: Stream.nbcolympics.com/ track-and-field-trials-day-7-host