Ohio Northern's Emily Richards Impresses At USA Championships 800m

Ohio Northern University Sports Information Office Richards_USATF_2017_Semis_Courtesy_2.jpg
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, used with subscription

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (24-Jun) -- During yesterday's semi-finals of the women's 800m at the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships here at Hornet Stadium, two of America's best half-milers, Ajee' Wilson and Charlene Lipsey, were battling down the backstretch in their bright blue adidas uniforms trying to make the final.  They are favorites for making the national team by achieving a top-3 finish here in Sunday's final.

But they were not alone.  Mixing it up with the two pros was little-known Emily Richards, the NCAA Division III champion from Ohio Northern University in her orange and black kit.  The 21 year-old Richards, who just finished her junior year, was feeling confident and was focused on making the final.  She wasn't intimidated, despite the fact that she had only run her first 800-meter race two years ago.  She would finish third, easily making it into the final.

"I've got a lot of experience racing championship-style races, so this just another one," Richards told Race Results Weekly referring to her résumé of NCAA D-III races.  "I felt comfortable, I felt good.  I set myself up perfectly, finished hard, and ended up with a spot."

Richards, a chemistry major from Delaware, Ohio, was a 400-meter runner when she began her collegiate career with a 55-second personal best.  But the Ohio Northern coaching staff, led by head coach Jason Maus, convinced her to move up to the 800m.  Early results weren't that promising; she ran a modest 2:11.17 her freshman year.  But as a sophomore last year, she dropped her time to 2:05.54.  That was only the beginning.

"When I started college, I actually never ran the 800, so I didn't have one (an 800m personal best)," Richards explained, looking slightly embarrassed.  "I was a 56-second 400 girl in high school.  My coach convinced me (to move up).  It was the right decision for sure.  I sacrificed some 400 (speed) for the 800, but it's working a lot better."

This year, she's run a dozen 800m races, indoors and out, according to the statistics service Tilastopaja.com, and has drastically dropped her best time to 2:00.62.  She's run sub-2:04 five times this season, including her two marks here in Sacramento: 2:03.61 in her prelim and 2:01.95 in her semi.  Not since Nick Symmonds came out of Willamette University in 2006 has there been an NCAA Division III half-miler with racing chops like Richards.

"I definitely came here, basically, with no expectations," Richards said after her semi-final.  "Of course, to make the final, but I'm just enjoying the experience and it's really great that everything is falling into place for me."  She added: "I felt how my body was feeling during the race, and I felt good, I felt comfortable.  So, as long as I was feeling good, and feeling comfortable, I knew it was right."

Of the eight women who will take the starting line in the final, six have run sub-2:00 during their careers.  Only Richards, and outgoing high school senior Samantha Watson, 17, haven't broken the two-minute mark.  Richards isn't fazed, explaining that she's used to running rounds, even if here she's in an open national championships and not the Division III meet last month in Geneva, Ohio, where she won by nearly five seconds.

"Similar in how it's set up (compared to an NCAA championships), but definitely a lot more high-caliber competition," she said matter of factly.  "So, that's different, definitely."

Richards plans to stay in school and finish her degree next year, but has aspirations to become a professional on the circuit.

"I do have another year to go, so I'll get my degree first," she said.  "But then, see where track takes me."

Big 12 Preview: Divine Oduduru's Coming Out Party, NCAA Record Chase In HJ

http://texastech.com Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 6.28.03 PM.png

The Big 12 is one of the most well-rounded conferences in the NCAA, with solid sprint match-ups, distance races and even a potential high jump collegiate record battle set to go down in Ames, Iowa this weekend at Iowa State's 300-meter track. Read on for a rundown of the top events to watch.

14 Athletes Set To Represent Canada At 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Untitled design (6).png

Feb. 14 release courtesy of Athletics Canada:

House Of Run Podcast: Coleman, Nelvis, Brazier Show Out

© Nick Fojud-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_10637940_168383134_lowres.jpg

On this week's episode of the House of Run Jason and Kevin discuss Christian Coleman's world record, Sharika Nelvis's American record, the doubles by Shelby Houlihan and Paul Chelimo and all the other action from the 2018 US Indoor Championships.

Star-Studded 3K, 60mH Tiebraker Headline 2018 MPSF Indoor Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Track and Field: Pac-12 Championships

By Taylor Dutch

Teahna Daniels Set To Extend Texas Sprints' Legacy At Big 12s

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Track and Field: 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays

By Lincoln Shryack

Texas sprinter Teahna Daniels wasted no time in becoming the fastest woman in Big 12 history. Less than two months into her NCAA career, back in 2016, Daniels won the 60m NCAA crown in 7.11 — the fastest ever by a freshman and then the fourth-best performance in collegiate history. She hadn’t even won a Big 12 title yet, but it was clear that the Longhorn freshman would soon dominate the conference.

The Best Races From The 2017 Big 12 Indoor Championships

© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_9899787_168383134_lowres.jpg

This weekend Ames, Iowa, will play host to the 2018 Big 12 Championship. Like 2017, FloTrack will have live coverage of the meet as teams chase a conference championship and qualifying marks to the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. 

On The Run: NCAA Mile Champion Josh Kerr | Ep. 75

Kirby Lee USATSI_9935150_168383134_lowres.jpg

NCAA mile and 1500m champion Josh Kerr of New Mexico joins Jojo and Kevin to discuss his approach to this weekend’s Mountain West Conference Championships, how his life has changed since he finished second at the Millrose Games, beating Edward Cheserek in the mile, following the collegiate scene growing up in Scotland, and choosing to attend New Mexico before he even visited the school. 

Cas Loxsom On Depression And The Realities Of Chasing The Running Dream

Anthony Alvarez cas loxsom

We caught up with Cas Loxsom at this past weekend's USATF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque after the American indoor record holder dropped out of his race. 

Josh Kerr, Ednah Kurgat Highlight Mountain West Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_10111911_168383134_lowres.jpg

Some of the nation’s top distance runners will be action during the distance medley relay at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Ednah Kurgat, Allie Ostrander, Dillon Maggard, and Josh Kerr are all expected to play pivotal roles in their team’s chances on Thursday night. Outside of the distance medley relay, the four are expected to be in action throughout the three day meet which you can watch live on FloTrack.

Jon Davis, Isaiah Harris, Danae Rivers & More: Big 10 Champs Preview

© Brett Carlsen-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_9844205_168383134_lowres.jpg

The Big 10 Championships take place Friday and Saturday in Geneva, Ohio, and the action is live on FloTrack. It’s a conference championships, so the meet has an added edge as teams vie for places and points.