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Emily Oren ’16 trains with new track club, On Ath­letics in Boulder, CO (Courtesy | On Ath­letics Club)

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.”