The saga of Soldotna’s Allie Ostrander gained another glorious chapter Saturday afternoon at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Ostrander, a redshirt freshman at Boise State, claimed her first Division I outdoor track and field championship with an electric final lap in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, using a strong push to take the lead over the penultimate barrier to win with a new personal best of 9 minutes, 41.31 seconds, slashing over nine seconds off her previous best, set in Thursday’s qualifying heat.
Making the triumph even more mind-boggling was that it was only her fourth attempt at the event. Ostrander decided at the beginning of the season to mix it up and try her hand at the steeple, a race that challenges athletes to hurdle several barriers and one water pit in each of the eight laps around the track.
Then, just 82 minutes later, the 2015 Kenai Central grad was back on track racing the women’s 5,000-meter final, where she finished an impressive fourth.
According to available records, Ostrander is the first athlete from the Kenai Peninsula to win a Division I national track and field championship.
In the steeple event, Ostrander stayed among the lead pack the entire race, then took a slight edge over New Hampshire’s Elinor Purrier. The two gapped the rest of the field in the final three laps, and Purrier passed Ostrander for the lead at the start of the final lap.
Ostrander then put on a surge on the backstretch and took the lead for good on the second-to-last barrier. Ostrander rapidly grew her lead in the final 200 meters as Purrier faded to fourth place. Colorado freshman Madison Boreman finished second, 5.17 seconds behind Ostrander.
Upon crossing the finish line, Ostrander collapsed to the ground in exhaustion, then explained her emotions to a nationally televised audience.
“Yesterday I was watching the meet, and I just kept seeing people become national champions,” she said. “I was just staring at it in awe, wondering … I just can’t imagine what that feels like. And now, I can.
“There’s no words to describe it, you just have to experience it.”
The performance gave Ostrander the fastest collegiate time this year in the women’s steeple, and leaves her as the first freshman to win the event since 2006. Ostrander also became the 10th national champion in Boise State school history.
Ostrander joins 2015 Kenai Central classmate Jonah Theisen as a collegiate champion at steeplechase. Theisen won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2016 NCAA Division II outdoor championships.
Later in the day, Ostrander finished fourth in the 5,000 meters with a season best time of 15:46.18, topping her previous best this season of 16:25.76 at the West Preliminary championships two weeks ago. Ostrander’s all-time best is a 15:21.85 she ran at an indoor meet in Seattle in Jan. 2016.
Ostrander began the 5K near the back of the pack, then moved up to midfield by the third of 12 1-2 laps. With three laps to go, Ostrander moved up to fourth, while Karissa Schweizer of Missouri began to open a large gap.
Whle Schweizer sped off to victory with a time of 15:38.93, Ostrander was left to battle for second place, which she took halfway down the backstretch on the final lap.