Broncos take eighth at NCAA Championships

Broncos take eighth at NCAA Championships
Boise State's Emma Bates, right, wins the the women's 10,000 meters while UAB's Elinor Kirk finishes in second place at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships Thursday, June 12, 2014, in Eugene, Ore. Bates won in 32 minutes, 32.35 seconds, the second-fastest time in the history of the meet.

EUGENE, Ore. - Emma Bates finished in fourth place in the 5,000m Saturday afternoon in Eugene, Ore., and the Boise State women's track and field team finished in eighth place, giving the Broncos their best NCAA Track and Field Championship team finish in school history.  Bates ran a 15:51.87 and recorded her ninth All-America honor of her track and field and cross country career.

The eighth-place finish is also the best women's team finish in school history for any sport at an NCAA championship. Including both men's and women's sports - with the omission of football - the women's track and field team finish ranks tied for the second-best team finish in school history behind the 1997 men's tennis team (t-fifth). The men's cross country team also finished eighth in 1996.

The Broncos scored 23 points and were the only school not in one of the power five conferences (ACC, Big-10, Big-12, Pac-12 and SEC) to place in the top eight. The eighth-place finish is also the second-best team finish in Mountain West history, falling just short of BYU's fourth-place finish in 2000.

"To finish eighth in the country is a historic moment for our program," head coach Corey Ihmels said. "To do it in the first year is just outstanding. It is a tribute to Emma, Marisa and Hayli, and the whole program buying into the direction we are headed."

Coming off a national title in the 10,000m just two days ago, Bates used everything she had to pull off her fourth-place performance. She began the race in her usual fashion and quickly moved to the middle of the pack, but also found herself boxed in against the rail.

The redshirt junior spent a lap falling back in the pack so she could quicken her pace along the outside to eventually catch up with the three leading runners. The middle third of the race saw the top three runners increase their pace and put a significant amount of room between them and Bates.

With three laps to go, the lead pack continued to increase the gap, but Bates pursued to hold on to the fourth-place position. The Elk River, Minn., native held her position and finished in fourth place, giving her the third-consecutive 5,000m All-America honor of her outdoor track and field career. The top-three finishers (Marielle Hall, Texas; Aisling Cuffe, Stanford; and Abbey D'Agostino, Dartmouth) did not participate in the 10,000m race on Thursday.

The story of the day, however, was the eighth-place team finish. With just four entries, the Broncos averaged 5.75 points per entry, trailing only Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio) who each had one entry who earned six points each, giving them a six points-per-entry average. Boise State's 5.75 points-per-entry average was the most for any team that had multiple entries. The top seven teams had anywhere between nine and 20 entries.

"It's a starting point, and it shows the potential we have here at Boise State in track and field and cross country to be eighth in the country," Ihmels said. "We have no thoughts on being ok with just this. We want to keep moving forward, keep getting better."

With the collegiate season now over, many of the Broncos on the track and field team will now direct their sights onto the U.S. Outdoor Championships and the USATF Junior Championships. The U.S. Outdoor Championships will take place in Sacramento, Calif., on June 26-29, and the USATF Junior Championships will take place in Eugene, Ore., on July 5-6.