Source: Mankato Free Press

5778124d2a6a4.imageAbout 2 ½ months ago, Sarah Boyle was testing out the waters to compete in a steeplechase again.

Literally.

Boyle — formerly Sarah Price, a Mankato native and 2005 Loyola graduate — had trained for the race she competed in years earlier for Michigan State University but she didn’t have access to a water pit, one of the event’s obstacles, until the day before the competition.

“I was nervous as heck,” Boyle said. “I thought, ‘What am I doing?’”

What she was doing was qualifying for the Olympic Trials.

Boyle, 30, ran that 3,000-meter race in 10:02, besting her personal record from college by 18 seconds and missing the Trials qualifying time by nine seconds.

So she worked to get that time down below 9:53, running in two more meets.

On Monday, she was competing in the Olympic Trials, and even had the American record holder, Emma Coburn, in her heat.

“It happened so fast,” Boyle said in a phone interview from Eugene, Oregon, the site of the meet. “It was a little surreal, like ‘Did that just happen?’”

Boyle finished sixth in her heat with a time of 9:58.27, 12 seconds out of a spot in today’s finals. The fifth-place finisher in her heat made the final cut.

“The race was a little bit of a blur,” said Boyle, who finished 21st overall. “I’m a little bit bummed because I know what it would have taken to get to the finals, and I know I could have run it. … It was a split-second decision that I didn’t make that would have made the difference.”

Still, to go from a seven-year absence in the steeplechase to running on the same track as the best in the country isn’t insignificant.

“It’s crazy,” she said. “to think that I was running with the best of the best this year.”

Boyle was a four-time all-state honoree in high school, finishing as high as third at the state meet in the 3,200-meter run and the 4×800-meter relay, along with her younger sister, Stephanie Price, who went on to run at the University of Minnesota.

Boyle competed in track and cross country at Michigan State for four seasons and was the captain for both teams. She competed in the steeplechase in the NCAA meet three times.

After two years as a graduate assistant coach for the Spartans, she took a position as the first women’s cross country coach at Cleary University in Howell, Mich. She’s been at Cleary since starting the program in 2012.

Boyle began running competitively again in 2014, after having her first child, a son, who is now 2 ½. She started with road races, including the half marathon. Boyle then returned to the indoor track and qualified for the U.S. championships in the 2-mile, taking ninth in 2015 in Boston. A year later in Portland, Oregon, she placed eighth in the 3,000-meter run.

That’s when someone suggested she return to the outdoor track and try steeplechase again.

So what’s next?

Boyle said she’s exploring her options, including the USA Road Running Circuit, which includes championships in distances from 1 mile to half marathon.

“I’m a competitor,” she said.