Allie Ostrander makes history and 3-peats as NCAA women’s steeplechase winner

June 8, 2019

AUSTIN, Tex. — Boise State’s Allie Ostrander remained perfect for her life in the steeplechase as she claimed her third straight NCAA title today at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in a new personal best time of 9:37.73. She joined Colorado’s Jenny Simpson as the only women to win three NCAA steeple titles and did it in style with a PB despite brutal mid-90 temperatures.

“It feels amazing. I said (at the pre-meet press conference) that a lot of the things I”ve done in the NCAA have been done before and this is just my own and that feels really special,” said Ostrander.

On paper, today’s final looked to be between Ostrander and New Mexico’s Adva Cohen, the fifth placer at last year’s European Championships for Israel, whose 9:29 personal best was the fastest in the field by far. But Cohen couldn’t even crack the top three today. Her teammate Charlotte Prouse ran 9:44.50 to take second for the second consecutive year, while Wofford’s Hannah Steelman clocked 9:46.08, edging out Cohen for third. Prouse and Steelman’s times were both personal bests.

Ostrander seized control of the race with two laps to go, taking the lead of a six-woman pack and opening up a gap by the back straight. Ostrander continued to grow her lead, and at the bell, she had 15 meters on BYU’s Erica Birk-Jarvis, who in turn had a gap on the chase pack.

Ostander would run unchallenged over the final circuit, but the battle for the minor places was fierce. Birk-Jarvis had the inside track, but she fell on the final water jump, allowing Prouse to pull away in the home straight as Steelman outfought Cohen for third.

1 Allie OSTRANDER JR Boise State 9:37.73 PB FR
2 Charlotte PROUSE JR New Mexico 9:44.50 PB
3 Hannah STEELMAN SO Wofford 9:46.08 PB
4 Adva COHEN SO New Mexico 9:46.36
5 Erica BIRK JR BYU 9:46.47
6 Val CONSTIEN SR Colorado 9:51.22
7 Devin CLARK JR Arkansas 9:55.22
8 Rebekah TOPHAM JR Wichita State 9:57.80
9 Gabrielle JENNINGS JR Furman 9:58.83
10 Brianna ILARDA SR Providence 10:11.63
11 Alissa NIGGEMANN SO Wisconsin 10:25.60
12 Nell CROSBY SR NC State 10:35.47

Quick Take: Ostrander is the first woman to three-peat as NCAA champ, but we’re not ready to call her the NCAA steeple GOAT

Ostrander has now won three straight NCAA steeple titles, something even the great Jenny Simpson could not accomplish (Simpson won in 2006, 2008, and 2009). Ostrander is the first woman to win three straight NCAA outdoor titles in any distance event since Lauren Flreshman won three straight 5000s in 2001 to 2003 (Raevyn Rogers accomplished the feat in the 800 from 2015 to 2017).

But Simpson had the superior steeplechase career in college as she also broke 9:30 three times, with a best of 9:25 during the collegiate season (she ran an American record of 9:12 at Worlds in between her fourth and fifth years of college). Even if Ostrander wins four in a row next year, we wouldn’t call her the NCAA steeple GOAT unless she runs significantly faster.

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That is the big question about Ostrander right now. Her 9:37 today was very impressive as she looked to be in total control and the conditions were far from ideal for running fast given how hot it was. How much faster can she go against better competition and in better conditions? The quality of women’s steepling has progressed significantly in recent years, and the US is one of the two superpowers of the event, along with Kenya.

Since Emma Coburn has the bye at Worlds this year, the US has four spots at Worlds, which would give Ostrander a chance to make the team behind Coburn, Courtney Frerichs, and Colleen Quigley (assuming all are healthy). But would Ostrander even want to run Worlds if she made it? She only has one year of XC eligibility remaining, and with Worlds taking place in October this year, it may be tough to do both.

We didn’t get a chance to ask Ostrander about her future plans as her post-race interviews was a little shorter than normal as they wanted to get her out of the mixed zone so she could warm up for the 5000 (she didn’t score, she was 16th).

That being said, the fact that PRd in this race was amazing. Ostrander admitted afterwards she thought it would be a slow race due to the heat. During the race, she told us she didn’t notice the heat too much and she said she thought having to focus on the barriers helped as that took one’s attention away from the heat. But after the race was over, she clearly felt it.

“I feel so hot right now, and not in the attractive way,” said an exhausted Ostrander on the ESPN2 broadcast after the race. “I feel like I’m really low on the scale in that department.”

Probably as a result of the heat, this was the first year that Ostrander didn’t score in the 5000 after winning the 3000.

MB: Quote of the Year – Allie Ostrander

Hannah Steelman accomplished something Allie Ostrander didn’t today

Wofford’s Steelman lowered her pb from  9:52.71 to 9:46.08 grab third. Less than an hour and a half later, she came back and scored in the 5000 by running 16:14.58 to place. That’s some really tough running in extreme heat, particularly impressive when you consider Steelman is from Maine originally.

MB: Hannah Steelman? Gets no Love from LCR 

Charlotte Prouse was second for the second straight year and will now turn her attention to the Canadian champs

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