Anyone who has followed the brief but meteoric career of Boise State’s Allie Ostrander knows to throw expectations out the window whenever the Lilliputian distance runner steps on the course or track. Ostrander set the track world abuzz last season when she smashed course records and darn near hauled in a natty as a true frosh on the cross country scene. Then, of course...she ran an Olympic-qualifying time in the indoor 5k in pretty much her first ever time running the event and vaulted to the top of most every distance ranking. In reality, the track world saw precious little of Ostrander’s potential in 2016...with her having to drop out of the indoor national championships with an injury and not running again until the Olympic Trials—where she “only” finished 8th against the best women runners in the country even though she was at least 8 years the junior of most in the field.
Ostrander’s name somewhat faded from the consciousness of the running world as she sat out the 2017 cross-country and indoor seasons while she worked her way back to 100% (don’t worry—she has redshirt years in both), but last weekend as the Stanford Invitational kicked off Boise State’s outdoor track season—Ostrander looked poised to make her 5k return. Well, at least most people thought she’d be making her 5k return—her first live race back since the Olympic Trials. They were wrong.
Allie O’s pithy retort left many scratching their heads and wondering if she was not yet ready for a return to the track. Then, Allie popped up on the women’s steeplechase lane assignments in what I’m sure most assumed was an April Fool’s prank. Again...it wasn’t. Ostrander won the darn thing...and with a time that was very much not the time of a newbie (or of someone that gets carded at PG-13 movies). In fact, Ostrander’s win (in a time of 9:55) caused heads to ‘splode around the track landscape...and not just because of Allie’s “meh” reaction to the ground-breaking win. In a race that Allie didn’t seem overly concerned with even necessarily running again, she ran an All-American time and now after running “not her race” on a whim, has many thinking she could be an Olympian in that discipline as well. Frankly, the numbers add up.
Above is a table showing the participants in last year’s Olympic Trials final of the steeplechase...Coburn—the winner—went on to win bronze at the Rio Olympics. Her debut—and all the rest of field’s debut times in the steeplechase were well behind Ostrander’s and she ran it as a rust-buster. To say that Ostrander could bring multiple national championships in multiple races and distances to Boise State is setting the bar kind of low—Ostrander could be one of the best middle-distance runners and steeplechasers in the U.S. for quite some time. If she feels like it, that is.