Allie Ostrander, a 2015 graduate of Kenai Central, qualified for the world track and field championsips in Qatar by taking fourth place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase Sunday at the USA Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
In an eight-lap race that started slow before livening up the last three laps, Ostrander finished at 9 minutes, 38.52 seconds. That’s about seven seconds off her PR, but what matters is she will be racing for Team USA at worlds from Sept. 28 to Oct. 6.
Ostrander was able to snap up the spot to worlds despite a series of grueling races.
June 8 in Austin, Texas, Ostrander, then a Boise State redshirt junior, became the first woman to win three straight NCAA outdoor steeplechase crowns and lowered her PR to 9:37.73. The temperature during her title run was 98 degrees, but she still came back 90 minutes later to finish 16th in the 5,000.
June 30 in Palo Alto, California, Ostrander lowered her PR to 9:31.44 in finishing 13th against a world-class steeple field at the Prefontaine Classic.
Ostrander turned pro after the race, giving up a final year of eligibility at Boise State, and returned home, actually running in a few Salmon Run Series races at Tsalteshi Trails, before reporting to Iowa for her first meet as a member of the Brooks Beasts and running the second-fastest qualifying time Friday to set up Sunday’s race.
The 14-runner field moved as a pack for the first five laps, consistently putting down splits in the 1:18 range.
The athlete with the most pedigree in the field is Emma Coburn, the reigning world champion in the event. She captured her sixth-straight national title in the steeplechase Sunday, and eighth overall.
Coburn got things moving by running a 1:10.31 in the sixth of eight laps, and only three other runners could answer. Courtney Frerichs, the 2016 Olympian and American record holder in the event, plus Colleen Quigley and Ostrander stayed within two seconds of Coburn. The rest of the field fell more than four seconds behind Ostrander.
This was significant because where were four world steeple berths up for grabs because Coburn qualified automatically as the defending champ.
While Coburn, Frerichs and Quigley were able to get away from Ostrander, the Soldotna runner was able to keep her splits at 1:12 to hold off fifth-place finisher Marisa Howard by about 13 seconds.
Coburn won at 9:25.63, while Frerichs was at 9:26.61, Quigley was at 9:30.97 and Ostrander crossed at 9:38.52.