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Allie Ostrander

Boise State's track titan prepares for return to the national spotlight


UPDATE: Allie Ostrander outpaced the field and and won 6-kilometer cross country meet at the NCAA West Regionals on November 9. Ostrander's time was 19-minutes, 9-seconds, and she ended up winning by a full 13-seconds.

Ostrander's performance led the Boise State women's track team to an overall second-place finish at the Regionals, securing an automatic bid to the NCAA National Championship, which will get underway on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Allie Ostrander has been a dominant force in the running world since before she was a freshman at Boise State University. In her three years as a Bronco, the 21-year-old has twice been crowned NCAA champion in the steeplechase, won the Junior World Mountain Running Championship and currently leads a Bronco cross country team that has a shot at winning a national title. Boise Weekly tracked her down mid-season to talk about her future and how the Boise State team is doing heading into the national championships.

One note: Since this interview took place, the NCAA Cross Country Rating Index released updated rankings that put the Boise State women's team at No. 1 in the nation and the men's team at No. 4—the highest ranking in its history.

What's a training week like this time of year?

We usually do two workouts a week, one is usually a tempo run and the other is some kind of intervals ... other days it's easier runs. Coach is really into recovery, so we take them really easy. If I'm running over [an] 8-minute pace he's happy. We also do a couple longer runs on Thursdays and Saturdays.

What's considered a long run for you?

They're getting shorter as we get towards the end of the season, but usually my long runs are 13 to 14 miles. I'd like them to be longer...

And you fit in classes too. What do you study?

Kinesiology, with an emphasis on exercise science and a minor in psych. This fall it's a little tough: I have this one class that's a ridiculous amount of work, conditioning procedures. I also have physics, personality psych, an internship and an honors capstone.

So, you have a full training load and a full class load. Do you have a social life in season?

With the team. Also my sister lives here so I hang out with her quite a bit, and I live with people who aren't on the team so I get to hang out with them.

Your sister runs as well. Has that always been a family thing?

My parents were recreational runners. I remember we'd go on little family runs on Sundays when [my sister] Taylor and I were little. We would run like a half mile and our parents would drop us off at the house and keep going. That was probably my first experience running, and then when Taylor was in middle school, I was in fourth grade and I would run with her cross country team.

A lot of your earlier achievements are actually from running on the trails. Does that still happen often?

I do love the mountains, but I right now I have to focus on golf courses and tracks. When I go home for the summer I'm still hiking a lot and doing a lot of trail running.

Post-collegiately, do you see yourself going pro on the track or as a trail runner?

Ideally I'd be able to do both, but I think initially I'd go the track route. I just feel that trails are more available, you can always go into ultras when you're older but on the track you're only going to be speedy for so long. And I'm not that speedy.

  • Eric Evans

You had the fifth-fastest steeplechase time in the U.S. this year, and were eighth in the 2016 Olympic trials in the 5K. Are the 2020 Olympic Games on your radar?

They're definitely on my radar; everyone thinks about the Olympics. But I haven't given a ton of thought to it. Two years is such a long time and it's hard to determine what my best shot would be to try to make the Olympic team.

In the more immediate future, it seems like you have some unfinished business at the NCAA level.

Well, steeplechase is the only thing I've gotten a national title in, and that bothers me a little bit. I want to be more than a one-trick pony. Also, right now our team is ranked really well in the NCAA and it'd be awesome to get a team trophy or a team championship in the next year.

Let's talk about that. The women's team has its highest ranking in program history—second in the nation [now first]—and you're ranked in the top five as an individual. How do you balance the team and individual goals?

Well, ideally, both of those goals should benefit each other. In the individual race if you have your own goals as well as the team goals to think about it's just extra inspiration. Something I think we've really got going for us this year is that people are very team-centric, and I think that has been elevating our individual results as well.

Individually, you're the best runner to wear blue and orange. What does that feel like?

It's good. I like bringing attention to Boise State because I think our program really deserves it and the coaches have put a lot of work into building it. The thing to note, though, is that even though I've been getting a lot of attention, there are other runners at Boise State that are doing really special stuff, too. The program as a whole is doing something special. What I think a lot of people in the community don't realize is that we're probably the best team on campus based off of rankings and performances in the NCAA. It makes me happy that people think of me as maybe the best ever, but I would like them to think of the team right now as the best ever.