Saina Closes Career with Stirring Performance
EUGENE, Ore. – All you ever needed to know about three-time national collegiate champion distance runner Betsy Saina was on display in Friday’s 5,000-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field.
Saina, winner of the 10,000-meter title Wednesday, used a late rush to surge to second place in the 5,000. Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino claimed the individual crown, winning in 15:43.68. Saina passed three runners down the home stretch to finish in 15:50.26. The Cyclone had faded slightly in the final 800 meters before passing All-Amercians Jordan Hasay of Oregon, Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton of Wichita State and Megan Goethals in the final half lap to finish as runner-up.
The performance concluded a historic career in which Saina earned All-America honors 11 times and claimed eight Big 12 titles.
“What you saw at the end of that race is really a microcosm of Betsy’s career,” Iowa State head track and field coach Corey Ihmels. “There were times she faced hurdles or challenges, but she always came back, overcame those setbacks and prevailed as one of the great runners our school has ever produced. It has been an honor to coach her.”
D’Agostino and Hasay had not run in Wednesday’s 10,000 and hence were rested heading into Friday’s race.
“I knew that they were be rested and I knew how well D’Agostino has been running but I was hungry,” Saina said. “The race changed pace and it was tough, I fell behind. But I came back in the last 200 meters and felt really good.”
Saina was presented her second-place award by Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard, who is Eugene for this week’s championships.
For Saina, who currently owns the third-fastest 10,000 time in the world at 31:37.22, her focus will be on forging a professional career. She has sights on making the team her native Kenya will send to August’s IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia.
“When I came to Iowa State I was just like any other average runner,” Saina said. “Now, after college, I must adjust to doing more things for myself. There will be no one there telling you ‘you should do this or that.’ But Iowa State will be with me the rest of my life. I am so grateful to everyone there.”