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Ramsden wins NCAA again in NZ one-two

A New Zealand one-two at the NCAA 1500m with Maia Ramsden first and Kimberley May second
Maia Ramsden has defended her NCAA 1500m title, with countrywoman Kimberley May second. PHOTO: ATHLETICS NZ

New Zealand runner Maia Ramsden has become the first woman in 20 years to defend her NCAA Division I 1500m title after a dominant victory in Oregon.

Harvard University's Ramsden powered home to win a tactical 12-woman final in Eugene, seeing off Providence College's Kimberley May in a Kiwi one-two.


Ramsden won in 4 minutes 6.62 seconds, 1.45sec clear of 21-year-old Aucklander May, who was just 1.07 sec shy of her personal best, set in Kentucky two weeks ago.

Ramsden, 22, was even more dominant than in her victory in Austin, Texas, when she became just the second New Zealander to win an outdoor NCAA track championships title.

She placed herself near the tail through the first 300m and moved close to the lead by the midway point.

Ramsden powered clear at the front by the bell and held her advantage comfortably over the final lap.

"The best case scenario would have been for it to have gone out quick - you feel smoother and the gear changes happen more naturally. But after the first lap I thought I'm going to have to go to plan B. I had to practicing trusting myself and not worry too much what was going on behind me,'' she said in an interview with FloTrack.

"I came here feeling I had nothing to prove but that was the same as last year. I think this year I had more concrete expectations for what I was capable of. Last year I knew NCAA champs would be the last race of my season, and I was ready to be done but this year was about finding more patience because I am hoping to be racing until the end of August.

"I had a great time. My family is here, and my little sister is here watching me race for the first time since I was 16, so it's been cool."

Three weeks ago, Ramsden shaved almost four seconds from her personal best time to set a New Zealand women's 1500m record of 4:02.58 at Grand Prix meet in Los Angeles.

It was just eight-hundredths of a second outside the Paris Olympic qualifying mark, leaving her confident she can go under the Games mark before the cutoff date.

She will now look to make the New Zealand team for Paris when she competes in the Harry Jerome Classic in Vancouver next Sunday.

May, who has enjoyed a huge breakthrough season, dashed from seventh to second over the final lap.

"We decided to do something new. I've been doing a lot of leading, and it hasn't been working, so today we wanted to have a bit more in the tank so I could finish strongly over the last 400m.

"It felt really good on that last lap, it was a bit chaotic, I got spiked but I was patient. With 300m to go I got a bit lucky on the inside and with 200m to go I felt good so I just coming down that home straight as fast as I could."

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