Emily Oren ‘16 added to her already legendary resume when she competed in the 2021 3000 meter Steeplechase Olympic Trials in Oregon this past summer. This year marked Oren’s second trip to the Trials, her first back in 2016, only weeks after her graduation.
In 2016, Oren placed 30th out of 35 women in the preliminary round with a time of 10:12.97, which she cites as an excellent learning experience for her.
“The Olympic Trials are a totally different beast when you’re running at them, they’re way more intense, so I had no idea what was coming for me, I was so scared,” Oren said. “I remember I tried to absorb everything that was going on around me, but being terrified.”
Part of that fear, Oren said, stemmed from running alongside her childhood heroes.
“I was running against my running idols, these girls that I had looked up to for so many years, I was on the starting line with them” Oren said. “That was really cool for me, it was a moment that made me realize maybe I can be like them, but I was also just so scared. I did not run well in 2016 and it was mostly just because I was very overwhelmed by everything.”
Oren’s second trip to the Trials, back in June, saw her drop more than 13 seconds off of her time from 2016. She finished 25th with a time of 9:59.34. Oren said that she had a much better mentality at the race in this year’s Trials.
“This year, I felt really calm on the starting line and ready to execute my race plan and I felt like I really belonged there,” Oren said. “It was totally different feeling going into the race, even though I still didn’t run much better than I did in 2016, I mean I ran a faster time and placed better, but it wasn’t a ton, it wasn’t like the huge redemption Olympic trials that I wanted to have.”
Oren was kept from her redemption race because of a devastating sprained ankle she sustained leading up to the run.
“I had practiced the waterpits a few days before and came down really hard on it,” Oren said. “Our team chiropractor and massage therapists were working on it before the race, so it got a lot of treatment and I thought it was fine, but then I just landed really hard on the slant and came over my foot in a way that wasn’t right, so every time I came down on my foot for the rest of the race, it wasn’t happy with me.”
Overall, Oren said that her year, running wise, was a disappointing one. However, her teammates at On Athletics Club, specifically Leah Falland, who has been her training partner throughout her career, helped her to begin looking towards new goals in the years ahead.
“Emily and I both had our own versions of heartbreak at the Trials, but we’ve both leaned heavily on our husbands, friends, and family and continue to find ways to dust ourselves off and reshape our next set of big goals,” Falland said.
As Oren considers her future in running, she says that she will take the process year-by-year, and will use the growth she experienced at Hillsdale to guide her.
“I would say it prepared me a lot because it helped me find balance being a student-athlete, it really forced you to manage your time well and figure out what your priorities are,” Oren said. “I obviously loved being an athlete, but I also loved being a student, I really liked economics, hanging out with my friends, and being close with them, so it forced me to become really balanced.”
“I think it’s an easy balance here because of how Hillsdale is structured, that academics are the first priority,” track & field and cross country head coach Andrew Towne said. “We talk a lot throughout the year with our current athletes, and we did this when Emily was here, that balance is important, maybe you don’t have balance every single day, but having balance in your life will allow you to achieve more in every facet of your life than if you were just focused on one major aspect.”
Oren made clear that this balance in life is something she appreciates and doesn’t think she could have gotten somewhere else.
“That has really helped me into my professional running career because I just know myself a lot better than I think I would have if I wasn’t a student-athlete, I know the things that I need to feel balanced, and to feel happy and healthy,” Oren said. “I mean, that’s why I still work for the college as well, I just know there’s a lot more to me than a runner and Hillsdale really helped me discover that.”