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Fankhouser races into national finals in 1,500

Skyhawk scores All-American honors by advancing
Katie Fankhouser of Fort Lewis College (8) competes in the 1,500 meter prelims on Thursday at Colorado State University Pueblo. Fankhouser finished third in the heat to reach Saturday's final. (RMAC Communications)

Fort Lewis College junior Katie Fankhouser ran to a third-place finish in Heat 2 of the women's 1,500 meters at the 2023 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday, successfully advancing to Saturday's finals with a time of 4 minutes, 32.87 seconds.

The top four finishers from each of the two heats, plus the next four fastest times advanced to the finals. Fankhouser's time was the ninth fastest out of the 12 finalists, matching her ninth-place seed entering the prelim race.

Fankhouser’s performance on Thursday also guaranteed her an All-American honor. The top-eight finishers in the final on Saturday will earn First Team and the ninth-12th place finishers will take home Second Team recognition.

Fankhouser was cruising after the opening 300 meters, sitting comfortably in the outside lane with a split of 53.77. Clocking a time of 2:08.14 at the 700 split helped her take a slim lead as her 1:14.38 marked the fastest split among all competitors. She ran the next 400 meters in 1:16.09, bringing her compiled time to 3:24.23, but slipping to second heading into the final lap. The junior cranked it up in the final loop, running a 1:08.65 to cross in 4:32.87 and take third in the heat by a photo finish. Fankouser finished just .01 behind Eleonora Curtabbi of West Texas A&M and .02 behind winner Cailee Peterson of Minnesota-Duluth, but accomplished the main goal of reaching Saturday’s final.

Heat 1 raced at a quicker pace with Lee University's Celine Ritter clocking the evening's top time at 4:27.88. Five athletes from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference will represent the league in the women’s 1,500 finals, including Courtney McAllindon of Westminster, Kate Hedlund of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Leah Taylor of Western Colorado and Nicole Lawrence Adams State.

Saturday's race will begin at 5:35 p.m. from the ThunderBowl on the campus of CSU Pueblo. Live results and live video can be found at the CSU Pueblo Athletics website.