Allie Ostrander is presented her award by Stacia Rustad at the Alaska High School Hall of Fame's Class of 2023 induction ceremony on Sunday, May 7, 2023, at The Lakefront Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska. (Screenshot)

Ostrander qualifies for finals of steeplechase at Olympic Trials

Allie Ostrander, a 2015 graduate of Kenai Central, qualified for the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase by finishing fifth in a heat race at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Monday in Eugene, Oregon.

The final will be Thursday, June 27, at 6:18 p.m. AKDT. In order to clinch a spot in Paris, Ostrander must finish in the top three and run a time under the Olympic qualifying standard of 9 minutes, 23.00 seconds.

Considering six American women have run under 9:23.00 this year, Ostrander almost certainly will have to run at least the Olympic qualifying standard to finish in the top three.

Monday’s qualifying round consisted of two heats. Runners could advance to the final by finishing in the top five of their heat race, or by being one of the next four fastest overall.

Ostrander, a professional runner based in Seattle, moved into fifth place entering the final lap and held that position in running 9:29.32. Like many of the runners, that was off her personal best, which is a 9:24.70 set June 8 at the Portland Track Festival.

The name of the game Monday for the runners was to advance to the final by saving as much energy as possible for Thursday.

“I definitely cut it a little closer than I wanted to in that prelim,” Ostrander said in a YouTube video posted on letsrun.com. “But, you know, last time at the Olympic Trials I felt pretty bad in the prelim and the final went a lot better so hopefully the final will feel different.

“But if it doesn’t, I’m super grateful to be there and I’m proud of all the work that I put in, in this process.”

Ostrander is at the trials for the third time. In 2016, she made the finals of the 5,000 meters and finished eighth. In 2021, the three-time NCAA Division I 3,000 steeplechase champion made the finals and finished eighth.

“Being in the trials this time feels more different than the other two times I’ve been here,” said Ostrander, who is coached by David Roche, in the video. “I have an amazing support system and a coach that have really believed in me through all the highs and lows and that’s how I was able to get back here.”

Ostrander’s first race in the 2021 trials was June 20. On June 11, she had announced she was seeking treatment for an eating disorder.

“Last time I raced the trails, I was mentally in a very bad place,” she said in the video.

Ostrander has said on her YouTube channel, which has 63,000 subscribers, that she feels like a different person compared to the last trials.

“It just takes a really long time to kind of heal the damage that happened and also rewire your brain,” she said in the letsrun.com video. “It can be very physically and emotionally, mentally demanding.

“Training at a really high level while recovering was hard. It was a lot to balance. But I feel like I’m kind of starting to come out the other side, see some of the positive benefits with the changes that I’ve made, and start to get glimpses of the runner that I can become someday. So it’s pretty exciting.”

When both of Monday’s heats are combined, Ostrander has the fifth fastest time, with Gabbi Jennings clocking the fastest at 9:23.88.

All seven athletes who have run faster than Ostrander this year are in the final. The top three times this year belong to Valerie Constien at 9:14.29, Courtney Wayment at 9:14.48 and Olivia Merkezich at 9:17.36.

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