AMES, Iowa – From the day she stepped on the Iowa State campus, Cyclone distance runner Betsy Saina has been good, very good. Now after running what was formerly the fastest 10,000-meter time in the world in April, Saina is headed to the Kenyan Olympic Trials this weekend in Nairobi. The six-time All-American is also Iowa State’s 2012 Female Athlete of the Year.
“This is a great honor for Betsy, who has been successful here since day one,” Iowa State head track and field coach Corey Ihmels said. “She has worked hard on a path where she has a chance to represent her country in the Olympic Games. In Kenya, this would be no small feat. We are looking forward to walking further down the road with Betsy in the future.”
Early in her Iowa State career Saina ran in the shadow of Iowa State four-time NCAA champion Lisa Uhl. Not anymore.
In April, Saina, who redshirted the 2012 outdoor season, won the 10,000-meter run against field of post-collegiate runners at the Peyton Jordan Invitational April 29 in Palo Alto, Calif. Saina’s time of 31:15.97 was the fastest in the world at that point of the season.
Saina was the NCAA champion indoors in the 5000-meter run and third-place finisher in the 3000-meter run earning All-America honors for the fifth and sixth times at the national meet in Nampa, Idaho in March.
At the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships in March in College Station, Texas, Saina was named the Most Outstanding Female Athlete of the meet after winning the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs, beating NCAA outdoor 10,000-meter champion Natosha Rogers of Texas A&M on the Aggie’s own track.
Saina earned All-America honors in cross country last fall, finishing ninth at the NCAA Championship to lead the Cyclones to a seventh-place national finish. Her runner-up finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional was a highlight. She was 13th at the Big 12 Championship as Iowa State won its first Big 12 cross country team title in October.
Saina, a junior at Iowa State majoring in agriculture and life sciences, already had an impressive resume before the 2011-2012 season started.
She was the 2011 Big 12 Conference 5,000-meter champion and finished third in that event at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Saina was the USTFCCA Midwest Region Indoor Female Athlete of the Year.
At the 2010 NCAA outdoor meet, she finished second in the 10,000 meters. As a freshman, in 2009, Saina earned All-America honors for the first time with a seventh-place finish in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA outdoor championship.