EUGENE, Ore. – Utah State junior Cierra Simmons finished in eighth place and earned first-team All-American honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday as the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships came to a close at historic Hayward Field.
The 2018 Mountain West champion in the event broke her own school record as she crossed the line in 9 minutes, 49.33 seconds.
“She ran another fantastic race to cap off the season,” said USU assistant distance coach Sarah Griggs. “Setting a PR and a school record, and earning first-team all-American status is an incredible accomplishment. She ran really tough and fought hard those last few laps. Cierra is a great competitor and she went out today and competed.”
Simmons earned one team point by finishing in eighth place and making the podium. As a result, the USU women tied for 63rd, marking the first time since 2000 that the Aggies have scored team points at the Outdoor Finals.
Furthermore, it is just the fourth time in school history that the USU women have placed at nationals. The Aggies’ best finish came in 1997, when they tied for 38th.
“Cierra ran a fantastic race,” said Utah State head cross country coach Artie Gulden. “She ran really tough the last three laps to stay in contention and fought like crazy. It’s great that she earned first-team All-American and got our ladies on the board with a point.”
Simmons is just the 13th female in school history to earn All-American accolades, and the first distance runner to do so during the outdoor season.
“Cierra had a fantastic season and I am so excited she is just a junior,” Griggs said. “She hasn’t even tapped her potential yet. She is paving the way for even more success in the future from the entire women’s team.”
Simmons accomplished her feat on Saturday against arguably the deepest steeplechase field in NCAA history. After all, 10 of the participants finished the race in less than 10 minutes and six runners recorded personal bests.
Boise State sophomore Allie Ostrander successfully defended her 2017 national title in the steeplechase as she crossed the finish line in 9:39.28. Six seconds behind her was another Mountain West distance runner in New Mexico’s Charlotte Prouse, who finished runner-up with a time of 9:45.45.
“It’s hard to know how the race is going to play out, but the main plan for Cierra going in was to stay patient the first mile and then really go out and compete hard the last three laps,” Griggs said. “She put herself in a good position at the beginning to stay out of trouble and was able to work her way up throughout the race. She never gave up and closed extremely well her last lap.”
Fans can follow the Utah State track & field programs at twitter.com/USUTF_XC, on Facebook at USUTrack and on Instagram at instagram.com/USUTF_XC. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
HISTORIC HAYWARD FIELD
JUNE 9, 2018
WOMEN’S FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
- USC – 53
- Georgia – 52
- Stanford – 51
- Kentucky – 46
- Florida – 42
T63. UTAH STATE – 1
USU WOMEN RESULTS:
3,000 Meter-Steeplechase (Finals) – 8. Cierra Simmons, 9:49.33.