Even when Soldotna’s Allie Ostrander doesn’t win a race these days, she still ends up looking pretty good.
In July, Ostrander finished a distant second in her senior Mount Marathon debut to Emelie Forsberg, but still ended up beating the iconic course record of Nancy Pease.
Saturday, Boise State’s Ostrander finished second at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, but still put a cap on what Boise State sports information called “arguably one of the most successful freshman campaigns in women’s collegiate cross country history.”
The runner-up finish is the highest by an Alaska runner at nationals.
“I was not expecting this,” the 2015 Kenai Central graduate told flotrack.org.
While Ostrander did not become the second freshman to win a women’s NCAA individual title, she did post a runner-up finish that was the best for a freshman since Arizona’s Amy Skieresz was second in 1995.
Ostrander won four races this season, including the Mountain West Championship, West Region Championship and Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.
At the Wisconsin race, Ostrander broke the course record of seven-time NCAA champion Abbey D’Agostino.
In her other two collegiate cross-country races, Ostrander was second.
Ostrander also found time to travel to North Wales in mid-September for a victory in the junior women’s race in the World Mountain Running Championships.
At the Wisconsin meet, Ostrander had made Notre Dame senior Molly Seidel settle for second place, but Seidel was not to be denied Saturday.
Seidel stayed at the front of a tight pack that gradually strung out over the race, while Ostrander lurked just behind.
At the 10:50 mark, Seidel, Ostrander and Arkansas senior Dominique Scott were breaking from the pack, and by 16:23, Seidel and Ostrander were clear of Scott.
Seidel, the reigning NCAA outdoor champion at 10,000 meters, then gradually kept pushing the pace, and Ostrander couldn’t keep up. Seidel’s winning time on the six-kilometer course was 19:28.6, with Ostrander five seconds behind.
“I was trying with everything I could to stay with her because I knew that once she got a gap it would be hard to not let it keep growing,” Ostrander told flotrack.org. “I didn’t want to fall back any farther and so I was trying to stay with her but I couldn’t quite do it today.”
Seidel breaks the so-called “Foot Locker curse,” becoming the first Foot Locker women’s champion to win an NCAA Division I women’s title. Foot Locker, along with Nike Cross Nationals, are the two major cross-country races for high school runners. Ostrander won Nike Cross Nationals in 2014.
The finish gives Ostrander All-America status, and also ties her for the best finish at nationals in school history, joining the runner-up run of Emma Bates in 2013.
Ostrander was joined in the top 10 by fellow Boise State freshman Brenna Peloquin, who took ninth in 20:04.3.
Boise State, which will not lose any scoring women’s runners to graduation, nabbed 11th behind champion New Mexico.
“It’s really good to have a strong team. When you’re in the race and it starts to get tough you can always think, ‘Oh, my teammates are pushing just as hard and I need to keep going for them,’” Ostrander told flotrack.org. “I just think we have a ton of potential and we definitely didn’t live up to it at this NCAA meet.
“We had more to give and I think we’ll have some more opportunities to prove what that is.”
Allie was not the only Ostrander to earn All-America status Saturday. Allie’s sister, Taylor, finished 26th at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in Winneconne, Wisconsin. The top 35 runners earn All-America status.
Ostrander, a senior, finished the six-kilometer course at Lake Breeze Golf Course with a time of 21:42.3. Her showing helped the Willamette women to a 10th-place finish.