Rising senior Emily Oren accomplished what few track athletes ever have at the Division II level this past season: in recognition of her success, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named her the D‑II Women’s Track Athlete of the Year on May 27.
“The USTFCCCA recognizes how well you ran at the meet and throughout the whole season. All my hard work is getting recognized, which is great,” Oren said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to get it because there were a lot of really good athletes this year.”
Oren followed up a successful indoor season in which she won two national titles and Athlete of the Year honors with two national titles during the 2015 outdoor season. With her championship time of 9:54.43 in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships on May 22, she became just the third woman in the history of D‑II track to run the steeplechase in under 10 minutes.
The next day, she won the 5000 meters with a time of 16:36.10 to win her second D‑II title in as many days. Her time of 16:17.40 in the same race at the Mt. SAC Relays earlier in the year was the fastest in the country.
“Emily personifies our program,” head coach Andrew Towne said. “She is very intelligent and talented, but what separates her is her drive. She is truly committed to excellence.”
In addition to her achievements during the Outdoor Championships, Oren’s 4:18.16 time in the 1500 meters during the Gina Relays was the ninth-fastest time in D‑II history.
“I like to take each race as if it’s just any other race,” Oren said. “I definitely put myself out there to win these races more so than other races sometimes, so in that sense it was a little different, but I like to keep it consistent.”
Oren still has one year of NCAA eligibility ahead of her, and despite all she has already accomplished, she still has lofty goals set for herself and her team.
“Going into the cross-country season, our team is obviously really talented, so I just want to see us do really well at that level again,” Oren said. “I just want to maintain what I’ve been doing and continue to run faster and see the program keep progressing.”
“Our goal for her, as with anyone in our program, is to fully reach her potential,” Towne said. “We constantly talk about excellence in our program and we ask that every member of our program give their absolute best.”
Oren’s teammates appreciate her dedication.
“She is always pushing herself at practice, and I know she is doing everything outside of practice to better herself,” said junior Corinne Zehner, who runs the 400 meter hurdles. “She has really taken everything in her life to the next level and it shows in her times.”
Currently, Oren is training to run the steeplechase in a couple of other meets this summer.
“I’m on the bubble for qualifying for the USA Championships, so I need to run four seconds faster to be assured a spot there,” Oren said. “I don’t know where I’m racing yet, but I’m going to race and hopefully qualify for that.”
The USA Championships is a world’s qualifier meet where anyone from college athletes to professional athletes with qualifying times can race.
Ultimately, Oren wants to qualify for the Olympic trials next year in Eugene, Oregon.
“I really would like to qualify for the Olympic trials next year so that’s my big overall goal,” Oren said. “I’m right on the verge of doing it.”
Oren has represented the Hillsdale Track and Field program well. Perhaps someday she will do the same for her country.