Allie Ostrander, a 2015 graduate of Kenai Central High School, defended her 3,000-meter steeplechase title at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
“Year one was a bit more of a surprise but winning again meant a lot to me,” Ostrander said in a video released by Boise State athletics. “To be able to maintain my spot at the top was really special.”
Ostrander, a Soldotna runner, won in 9 minutes, 39.28 seconds, finishing more than 6 seconds ahead of the runner-up. She is just the second to win back-to-back steeplechase titles at the meet, joining the effort of Jenny Barringer (Simpson) in 2008 and 2009 in her junior and senior seasons.
Emma Coburn also won a pair in 2011 and 2013. Simpson won bronze in the 2016 Summer Olympics in the 1,500, while Coburn won bronze in the steeplechase.
As a redshirt sophomore, Ostrander has room to make some history.
“It looked under control and very relaxed,” Boise State head coach Corey Ihmels said after the Broncos won a 13th national title. “She wasn’t pressured at any point and she just kind of clicked along, and the end result was the same (as last season). But this was definitely more impressive than what we saw last year.”
In Thursday’s preliminaries, Ostrander said she struggled with her hurdling. That was cleaned up by Saturday.
“I think my hurdling and water jumps were a lot better in the final,” Ostrander said. “I think there were a lot of nerves in the prelim and I felt a lot smoother today.”
Also in the preliminaries, Ostrander was dubbed a “baby-faced assassin” by ESPN commentators. She dealt with that moniker as swiftly as she dealt with the steeplechase field Saturday.
“I think we should really shut that one down,” she said. “In all seriousness, I just don’t think that any athlete should really have their face commented on. It has nothing to do with my athletic performance and I think it’s pretty inappropriate.”
After the race, cameras captured Ostrander sharing hugs with parents, Teri and Paul Ostrander, and sister, Taylor Ostrander.
“My family means everything to me,” Ostrander said. “They’ve been with me through all my successes and failures and hardships. 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.”