EUGENE, Oregon – Alyssa Snyder came into the NCAA Track and Field championships Thursday just hoping to crack the top eight in the 10,000 meters and claim All-America honors.
She did, and then some.
Snyder, a sophomore at Montana State from Coalville, Utah, finished fourth in a time of 32 minutes, 58.31 seconds, breaking her personal best in the 5,000 in the middle of the race.
“Pretty surprised by it to be honest,” Snyder said. “I got down to two miles to go and was looking around thinking, ‘Oh, man, they’re gonna eat me up the last 400.’ We ran that pace in 1K repeats in practice last week, and it was really hurting with three minutes rest in between.”
Four Montanans competed as well, Thursday. Makena Morley, a 15-time Montana state champion from Bigfork, competed in the 10,000 finals for Colorado along with Snyder. She placed 17th overall with a time of 33.58.17.
Sadi Henderson, a Corvallis native competing for Boise State, ran in the 800 prelims. She was one of three Broncos to qualify for the NCAA Track and Field championships and was the first ever to run the 800 at outdoor nationals in school history.
Henderson, coming off a 2:03.91 personal best she set at the NCAA west regionals two weeks ago, came just short of advancing to the final, placing fifth in 2:04.95.
“I feel like I got caught up in positioning and got boxed in a little bit,” Henderson said. “Kind of lost sight of my plan, I guess.”
Even though Henderson did not make it to the final, the redshirt sophomore is looking toward the future.
“I was not expecting this year to be as good as it has been so far,” Henderson said. “I’ve learned not to put any limits on myself and just go with it.”
When Henderson arrived at Boise State, her 800 time was a pedestrian 2:24. One of the goals that she set for herself was to run under 2:06 one day. In just two years of competing, she’s realized that goal and is now shooting for a spot on the national team.
In the second heat of the 1,500 prelims, Christina and Danielle Aragon, both Billings natives, faced each other on the track for the first time in their careers and both qualified for the final. Danielle, a fifth-year senior for Notre Dame, never raced her sister in high school because five years separated them.
“It was kind of a comfort being in the same heat,” Christina said. “But it’s also more nerve-racking because you aren’t just nervous for yourself, you’re also nervous for your sister.”
The race began with Danielle taking the lead early and Christina hanging in the back, sandwiching the competitors for three laps. Christina made her move to fourth place on the last lap and finished second with a time of 4:19.08, followed by Danielle in third with a time of 4:19.13.
The final between the two sisters will start at approximately 4:41 p.m. Mountain time on Saturday.