EUGENE, Ore. — The frustration spilled out of Wichita State’s Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton as she walked toward the white tent set up for athletes to do interviews after they competed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Tuliamuk-Bolton came to the entrance of the tent, looked in at the throng of reporters waiting to talk to her and the other athletes who had just competed the women’s 5,000-meter final on Friday — she finished fourth — and turned on her heels and did the thing she knows how to do best.
She ran. And kept running. Out of Hayward Field. Past the smaller tents set up for the athletes. Past the buses lined up to take teams back to their hotels and out of the University of Oregon’s campus and into the fading sunset.
She didn’t want to talk at that moment, she just wanted to get away. About an hour later, she was able to look back on her final race as a Shocker.
"I was just so frustrated — I just wanted to go, to be away from where I was," Tuliamuk-Bolton said. "I was angry. I was disappointed. There was just a lot of negative energy I needed to get out. I went for a cool-down run and ended up running five miles."
Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino won the 5,000.
"I told myself I had to be ready for anything," D’Agostino said. "I was going to put myself in the position to move if anything went down toward the end I had a little left in the tank. It was such a slow start and we were all in a pack that when we finally started to separate at the end I was ready."
Tuliamuk moved from third to second with five laps left, but that only lasted one lap. In third with one lap to go, she was passed on the final lap by Iowa State’s Betsy Saina, who finished second, and finished fourth with a time of 15 minutes, 51.92 seconds. Saina also passed Oregon’s Jordan Hasay down the stretch.
Tulliamuk-Bolton finished second to Saina in the 10,000 on Wednesday.
"What happened was that I lost focus on what was happening," Tuliamuk-Bolton said. "I kept looking behind me once I felt the first two breaking away and didn’t realize that I was going to get passed. I thought I was going to be third place and it just got away from me."
Tuliamuk-Bolton, a 13-time All-American and the greatest distance runner in Shocker history, didn’t cut herself any slack. WSU track and field coach Steve Rainbolt came to her defense.
"She was in tears, just so disappointed," Rainbolt said. "You can imagine how much she invested in this."
The 5,000 was never Tuliamuk-Bolton’s signature event but she was still able to compete with the nation’s best .
"I thought she ran a gutsy race," WSU distance coach Kirk Hunter said. "On the biggest stage she showed why she’s so great. She showed why she’s one of the best distance runners in the country."