BSU hosts surprise celebration for Allie Ostrander after repeating NCAA championship
If there was any competition in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday at Hayward Field, it was Boise State redshirt sophomore Allie Ostrander against herself.
Ostrander became just the second repeat national champion in the event, finishing more than 6 seconds ahead of the runner-up at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.
"I think year one was a bit more of a surprise, but winning again meant a lot to me," Ostrander said. "To be able to maintain my spot at the top was really special."
Ostrander crossed the finish line in 9 minutes, 39.28 seconds to become the second two-time national champion in Boise State history. She joins BSU Hall of Fame inductee Gabriel Wallin, who won consecutive titles in the javelin in 2004-05.
"I had another coach standing next to me, and he turned around afterward and said, 'She made that look really easy,'" Boise State coach Corey Ihmels said. "It looked very under control, relaxed. She wasn't pressured at any point, and she just kind of clicked along and the end result was the same."
Olympian and former Colorado Buffalo Jenny Simpson (Barringer) is the only other repeat NCAA champion in the steeplechase. Simpson claimed titles in 2008-09 as a junior and senior.
"I think that this year I was probably more expected to win, coming back as the defending champion," Ostrander said. "I ran the race a little bit more like I was really in it to win, taking the lead earlier and pushing the pace, whereas last year going into the last lap, I was running side by side with (New Hampshire's) Elinor Purrier. This race definitely played out a little bit differently."
All eyes were on Ostrander in the steeplechase after she recorded the best time in Thursday's preliminaries (9:45.96). Ostrander's time was almost 3 seconds faster than her nearest competitor in the prelims, and she said after the race that she wasn't pleased with her hurdling form.
In Saturday's final, Ostrander pushed the pace even more.
Syracuse junior Paige Stoner stayed close behind Ostrander for the first six laps as the two pulled farther and farther away from the pack. Ostrander then left Stoner behind, too, creating a lead of 30 to 40 meters over the course of the bell lap. New Mexico's Charlotte Prouse took second (9:45.45), and Stoner dropped to third (9:46.98).
With the rest of her competitors grimacing and struggling behind her, Ostrander finished the race with a relaxed smile. She offered hugs and congratulations to other runners, and then found her parents, sister and grandmother in the crowd for a hug.
"My family means everything to me. They've been with me through all of my successes and failures and hardships," Ostrander said. "My parents live in Alaska, but they travel all over the U.S. to watch me race. My sister works a full-time job, and she's using all of her vacation days to come to this meet.
"The amount of effort they put into supporting me means the world, and there's no one I love more."
Just 80 minutes after the steeplechase, Ostrander returned to the track for an eighth-place finish in the 5,000-meter final. Her time was 15:46.50 as she collected another team point for the Broncos.
"It's a really tough double. I did it last year and this year, and both times after the steeplechase I was kind of like questioning my sanity," Ostrander said. "But once I get into the race, it's not so bad."
She completed the same difficult double last year in the NCAAs, winning the steeplechase and finishing fourth in the 5,000.
"We all can see the grit in her face. I can't coach that. She has that, and that's just ingrained in her from the day she was born. I just try to stay out of the way," Ihmels said. "The thing that she's got to understand is just moving forward, we don't have to do anything more. We just need to keep doing what we're doing. I think if she keeps doing that, she'll keep getting better. Obviously for her long-term, she wants to get to the Olympics."
Boise State NCAA national champions
Bill Shaw - Skiing (Slalom) - 1974
Boise State football team - Division I-AA - 1980
Jake Jacoby - Track & Field (High Jump) - 1984
Eugene Green - Track & Field (Triple Jump*) - 1991
Kirk White - Wrestling (165 pounds) - 1999
Gabe Wallin - Track & Field (Javelin) - 2004 & 2005
Ben Cherrington - Wrestling (157 pounds) - 2006
Eleni Kafourou - Track & Field (Long Jump*) - 2009
Kurt Felix - Track & Field (Decathlon) - 2012
Emma Bates - Track & Field (10,000 meters) - 2014
Allie Ostrander - Track & Field (3,000-meter steeplechase) - 2017 & 2018
*Indoor track season