BOISE, Idaho--Boise State's Allie Ostrander and David Elliott test their mettle this weekend at the NCAA National Indoor Track & Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama. Both runners are entered in two events; Ostrander will compete in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, while Elliott will run in the mile and the 3,000.
For Ostrander, this weekend's two races provide an opportunity for her to show her growth this year against a woman who beat her to win the National Cross Country championship. Molly Seidel of Notre Dame ran away from Ostrander in the final stretches of the 6K, and despite a game effort, Allie was unable to catch her.
Ostrander and Seidel are two of the favorites in both events this weekend. Ostrander has the top time in the 3,000 (8:54.27) while Seidel comes in with a season best of 8:57.13. In the 5,000, the order is reversed, with Seidel clocking a 15:19.64 to win the ACC Championship and Ostrander entering the weekend with the second-best time in that event (15:21.85).
Although Ostrander and Seidel are two of the top female collegiate distance runners in the nation, their stories are very different. Ostrander is a freshman, Seidel a senior. While Ostrander began her college career as the #1 recruit, Seidel has worked hard to make herself better. Ostrander is already one of the nation's top runners; Seidel has come a long ways since her freshman year.
(Seidel finishing 171st as a sophomore)
In 2012, Seidel helped her Notre Dame team finish third at the Regional Cross Country Championships to qualify for the Nationals. Seidel finished #217. Seidel and the Irish again qualified for the 2013 National Championship and Bronco fans remember that event well; while Boise State's Emma Bates was finishing second, Seidel was back at #171.
From those roots, Seidel blossomed into a champion, showing remarkable progress in her junior year. She not only earned her first All-America honor in cross country (finishing 19th), but then earned All-America honors in both the 5,000 and 10,000 indoors and winning the 2015 national championship in the 10,000.
Ostrander has a chance today to show how far she's come since the cross country season. She did not run either the 3,000 or the 5,000 at the recent Mountain West Championships, but did help the Bronco team win the conference title in the distance medley relay. Having faced Seidel in that national cross country championship race, Allie is getting to know her collegiate competition. Will she have a different strategy this time? It will be interesting to see how Ostrander approaches these two races.
Elliott is ranked third in the mile among the entrants, by virtue of becoming the 100th man to break the four-minute barrier in the event with a time of 3:57.38 at the Husky Classic earlier this year. Blake Haney of Oregon (3:56.36) is the favorite while Thomas Awad of Pennsylvania (3:57.03) is second. Elliott originally did not qualify for the Nationals in the 3,000, but earned a spot as the #16 seed when several runners ahead of him chose other events to compete at this weekend and did not enter the 3,000.
Elliott has a busy weekend ahead of him, competing in the preliminaries of the mile today at 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time. If David is fortunate enough to qualify for the final, he will run in that race tomorrow at 3, and then just a little over two hours later, compete in the 3,000 final at 5:10 Mountain Time.
Ostrander takes on the field in the 5,000 tonight at 7:25 before competing in the 3,000 tomorrow at 5:25 p.m. Mountain Time.