With her eye on an unprecedented three-peat in the women’s steeplechase, Alaska’s Allie Ostrander cleared her first hurdle — check that, her first hurdles — Thursday at the NCAA Division I national track and field championships in Austin, Texas.
Ostrander, the 2015 Kenai Central graduate, set a facility record while winning her preliminary heat in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
That makes the Boise State junior the top seed in Saturday’s finals, where she will try to become the first woman in history to win three straight NCAA Division I crowns in the steeplechase, an event that challenges runners with hurdles and water hazards.
Ostrander won the second of two heats in a time of 9 minutes, 44.32 seconds. While that erased the previous record at Mike A. Myers Stadium (9:48.29, set by Northern Arizona’s Ida Nilsson), it is slower than both her season best (9:40.05) and her personal best (9:38.57). It’s also well off the all-time NCAA record of 9:24.41 set in 2016 by New Mexico’s Courtney Frerichs, a silver medalist at the 2017 world championships.
Ostrander, an 11-time All-American in cross country and track, will be chasing two more All-America honors Saturday. She’ll run the steeplechase first, and 90 minutes later she’ll run the 5,000 meters.
She was the first woman to pull that demanding double in 2017, when she won the steeplechase and placed fourth in the 5,000 meters. Last year, she placed eighth in 5,000 after repeating as champion in the steeplechase.
Ostrander has become something of a trend-setter when it comes to the steeplechase/5,000 double. Five of the 12 women who advanced to the steeplechase finals are also on the start list for the 5,000 meters. Ostrander has the second-fastest time this season among the 24 runners entered in that race, a 15:30.94.