Rainsberger, Eikeng Lead Women To 19th-Place
EUGENE, Ore. – Top-five finishes and school records from Katie Rainsberger in the steeplechase and Ida Eikeng in the heptathlon helped the Husky women's track squad place 19th as the NCAA Outdoor Championships came to an end at Hayward Field. It's the second-straight Top-20 finish for the UW women's team, and the tenth Top-25 finish in program history.
Rainsberger was part of a thrilling finish in the steeple, taking third overall with the eighth-fastest time in NCAA history and earning six team points. Then Eikeng capped off a record-setting two days by taking fifth in the heptathlon with the No. 10 score in Pac-12 history to add four more points. Those ten were added to the four that Haley Herberg scored on Thursday in the 10k to give UW fourteen team points, the same total it scored at the last championships in 2019.
"Every kid we brought to the meet was the best version of themselves," said Director of Track & Field Maurica Powell. "To be Top-20 as a team for the second time in a row and beat a lot of really good teams, it was an exciting end to the season."
In the 12-woman steeplechase final, Rainsberger ran much of the race between third and sixth, making a few moves to get better looks at the barriers, and making up good ground on the water jumps. Going into the final lap, she was in a lead pack of five, and Rainsberger was the first runner to make a move for the lead, with 250-meters to go. She had a half-step lead over the final water jump, but Auburn's Joyce Kimeli surged on the inside and moved slightly ahead. As the two raced for the finish, Mahala Norris of Air Force made a big kick on the outside and was able to get past Rainsberger and Kimeli and take the win in 9:31.79.
Kimeli was second in 9:31.84, and Rainsberger third in 9:32.12. Those times were the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-fastest times in NCAA history, with Rainsberger also posting the No. 2 time in Pac-12 history. Her time was just over two seconds away from the Olympic Standard of 9:30.00.
"Katie ran the best race of her life," said Powell. "For her to show up at the NCAA Championships back at Hayward Field after all these years, under those circumstances to run the best race of her life was outstanding.
INCREDIBLE???? What a way to end an amazing career!!
In an epic battle, Katie Rainsberger takes 3rd ?? for her best ever NCAA finish.
— Washington Track & Field (@UWTrack) June 12, 2021
The First Team All-America honor was the 13th and final All-America honor of Rainsberger's career. The third-place finish matched the third-place she earned at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships for her best Nationals finish. It tied Mel Lawrence for the best finish by a Husky in the steeplechase, as Lawrence was third in 2009.
Day two of the heptathlon for Eikeng and Lyndsey Lopes started in the long jump, where Eikeng got a best of 18-7 ¼, not her season-best but much improved over her Pac-12 Championship mark. Lopes was unable to find the form that got her a 20-foot jump at Pac-12s, and had a best of 18-4 ¼.
The javelin figured to be one of Eikeng's best events once again, but after two attempts her best of 148-feet was solid, but well off her season-best. She came up big in round three, however, firing one 163-9 to break the facility record for a heptathlon javelin and win the event by over a dozen feet. Lopes also threw a season-best of 122-11 to gain some ground.
In the final 800-meters, Lopes was 14th overall in a time of 2:19.28, while Eikeng placed 20th in 2:34.34. That put Eikeng's final tally at 5,920 points, a big lifetime-best and enough to break teammate Hannah Rusnak's school record of 5,779 points set in 2019. Lopes would score 5,542 points to finish in 12th-place and earn All-America Second Team honors.
Eikeng becomes the first Husky ever to score in the women's heptathlon, in just her second collegiate heptathlon competition.
"Ida, where she was three months ago compared to now, she was hurt and had no idea what the outdoor season would look like," Powell said. "We pulled her form a hep early in the season. She really put it together at this meet, her throws were incredible. She is a total gamer."
— Washington Track & Field (@UWTrack) June 12, 2021
The final Husky in action this season was Herberg, who doubled back from her fifth-place 10k finish on Thursday to run again in the 5,000-meter final. As usual, Herberg gave it everything she had, hanging with fresh athletes that were racing for the first time this meet, but she came up just a couple seconds short of a top-eight spot. Still she got a second top-10 finish, as Herberg placed 10th in another fast time of 15:47.46.
Of Herberg, Powell couldn't have been more impressed. "Haley doubling back in 15:47 and almost scoring, she's just as tough as they come," she said. "She's only a sophomore, so we have a ton of time left with her."
Washington Track & Field
NCAA Outdoor Championships
Eugene, Ore. | Hayward Field
June 12, 2021 | Day 4 of 4
Women's 5,000m Final
10. Haley Herberg, 15:47.46 (All-America Second Team)
Women's 3,000m Steeplechase Final
3. Katie Rainsberger, 9:32.13 (All-America First Team; School Record)
Event 1, 100m Hurdles (Friday)
4. Ida Eikeng, 13.37
12. Lyndsey Lopes, 13.70
Event 2, High Jump (Friday)
9 (tie). Ida Eikeng, 5-5 ¼
9 (tie). Lyndsey Lopes, 5-5 ¼
Event 3, Shot Put (Friday)
1. Ida Eikeng, 47-10 ¾
20. Lyndsey Lopes, 36-4
Event 4, 200m (Friday)
4. Ida Eikeng, 24.19
7. Lyndsey Lopes, 24.46
Event 5, Long Jump (Today)
14. Ida Eikeng, 18-7 ¼
16. Lyndsey Lopes, 18-4 ¼
Event 6, Javelin (Today)
1. Ida Eikeng, 163-9
10. Lyndsey Lopes, 122-11
Event 7, 800m (Today)
14. Lyndsey Lopes, 2:19.28
20. Ida Eikeng, 2:34.34
5. Ida Eikeng, 5920 (All-America First Team; School Record)
12. Lyndsey Lopes, 5542 (All-America Second Team)