By Tim Glon
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Ohio Northern junior All-American Emily Richards (Delaware/Hayes) finished eighth in the USA in the women's 800-meter run at the 2017 United States Track & Field Outdoor Championships at Hornet Stadium on Sunday afternoon on the campus of California State-Sacramento.
She finished eighth in the finals in 2:01.74, which is the second-fastest time of her career.
"I'm a little disappointed, but grateful that I made it this far," Richards said. "I really wanted to finish in under two minutes today. It wasn't my smartest race - I could have set myself up better (early in the race) to finish higher than eighth. But I learned from it and that is important."
"I'm so proud of Emily," ONU head coach Jason Maus said. "She's come so far with everything she's accomplished this season. She represents ONU and our program so well. She had a great championships, handling the rounds, the heat, and the competition so well. She learned a ton at this level and we'll continue to prepare to get better at this level. I'm just so proud of her."
The top three finishers in the finals make the USA National Team and will represent the United States in the World Championships in London later this summer. The top six finishers receive medals for their efforts.
Richards was seeded sixth in the finals with a semifinals time of 2:01.95.
Ajee' Wilson of Adidas won the race in 1:57.78, which makes her the third-fastest woman in the world this season.
Charlene Lipsey of Adidas was second in 1:58.01, Brenda Martinez of New Balance was third in 1:58.46 and Raevyn Rogers, the NCAA Division I national champion of Oregon, was fourth in 2:00.18.
All eight women entered the race ranked in the top 35 in the world, with five runners ranked in the top 15. Richards was ranked No. 32 in the world entering the meet.
In the semifinals on Friday night, Richards ran at the front of the pack the entire race and finished third in her heat.
The top four finishers in each of the two 8-woman heats advanced to the finals. Richards was a full 1.42 seconds ahead of the fifth place finisher in her heat.
The only other collegian to make the finals was Rogers.
In the first round on Thursday, Richards finished third in her heat in 2:03.61 to qualify for the semifinals automatically. She was 14th overall out of 31 runners in 108-degree heat.
The top three finishers in each of the four 8-women heats and the next four best times advanced to the semifinals.
Richards finished ahead of eight professional runners and collegiate runners from Stanford, Duke, Boise State, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Northern Iowa, Oregon and California-Davis.
She was only one of three collegiate runners to advance into the semifinals, joining Rogers and NCAA Division I All-American Hanna Green of Virginia Tech.
Richards broke her own Div. III record in the 800-meter run and automatically qualified for the USA National Meet with a school-record time of 2:00.62 at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville on June 10.
Richards entered the Championships with the ninth fastest time in the country in the event and owns the second fastest time among collegiate athletes this season.
She also ranks 28th in the world in the women's 800-meter run this year.
Richards is a 5-time NCAA Division III Champion, winning the 800 three times and 1500 twice. This season, she swept the 800 and 1500 titles both Indoors and Outdoors after winning the 800 crown Outdoors in 2016.
She is also a CoSIDA Academic All-American and won the Ohio Athletic Conference Cross Country individual title in 2015.