NCAA Women’s 1500 — Ramsden Reinforced Her Rep

Harvard’s Maia Ramsden has come a long way in a year and defended her title with confidence. (MIKE SCOTT)

A YEAR AGO, in Austin, one of the biggest surprise champions was a little-known runner from Harvard with a globe-trotting past named Maia Ramsden. One year later, it was going to be a surprise if she didn’t win.

“I feel like I had nothing to prove last year,” said Ramsden, a veteran at 22. “I was coming in with no expectations.”

“This year, I had more expectations for what I was capable of.”

True to her vagabond upbringing, she also did a lot of traveling in ’24. In the middle of the indoor season, she went to New York — her birthplace — and ran the mile at the Millrose Games. Six days before the NCAA Indoor, she flew to Glasgow, ran the indoor Worlds and broke the New Zealand Record in the 15.

(She grew up in Wellington, later was a star runner as a youth in Fiji before graduating high school in Addis Ababa, where her father was stationed in the Foreign Service.)

Outdoors beckoned, so in short order she helped Harvard set the CR in the DMR at Penn Relays, the Crimson’s first championship at Penn in 88 years; won the Heps 1500 and 5K at Princeton; flew to LA where she broke the Kiwi outdoor 1500 record in 4:02.58, the second-fastest ever by a collegian, then flew east in time for Regionals.

Nevertheless, she was facing an impressive group of milers in the 12-person field. The slowest qualifying time from the semis was 4:10.34.

‘I knew what I needed to do,” Ramsden said. “Going into it, practicing and controlling myself to not worry too much.”

After Virginia Tech’s Lindsey Butler took the field through a nonchalant first 800 in 2:19, Florida’s Flomena Asekol went to the front on the backstretch. That was all Ramsden needed.

She grabbed the lead, accelerated, ran a 61 for her third 400 and never looked back. “I wasn’t going to worry about what was going on behind me.”

Kimberley May of Providence won a spirited battle with Oregon’s Klaudia Kazimierska for the runner-up spot, 15m back, as milers from the East went 1-2-4-6.

The depth of the field was breathtaking, as 12th place was 4:13.39, a time that would have won 20 of the NCAA finals in the event.

As for the future, Ramsden hopes she will be able to represent NZ in the Olympics in Paris. She was scheduled to graduate this spring and is expected to pass up her fourth year of college eligibility to run as a professional. “I have decided,” she said. “I can’t announce it yet.”


FINAL (June 08)

1. *Maia Ramsden’ (Harv-NZ) 4:06.62 (60.94, 2:05.33, 3:17.48);

2. *Kimberley May’ (Prov-NZ) 4:08.07 (60.28, 2:06.38, 3:18.46);

3. **Klaudia Kazimierska’ (Or-Pol) 4:08.22 (60.59, 2:06.59, 3:18.75);

4. *Melissa Riggins (Gtn) 4:08.74 (60.94, 2:07.23, 3:19.34);

5. Flomena Asekol’ (Fl-Ken) 4:08.91 (62.27, 2:07.56, 3:19.63);

6. *Shannon Flockhart’ (Prov-GB) 4:09.53 (61.48, 2:07.86, 3:19.98);

7. *Lindsey Butler (VaT) 4:09.85 (62.35, 2:08.67, 3:20.79);

8. Olivia Howell (Tx) 4:10.05 (62.03, 2:08.24, 3:20.33);

9. *Maggi Congdon (NnAz) 4:10.41; 10. Samantha Bush (NCSt) 4:10.81; 11. Teagan Schein-Becker (Rider) 4:12.48; 12. *Sophie O’Sullivan (Wa) 4:13.39.

SEMIS (June 06)

I–1. Flockhart’ 4:05.99 PR (4, 5 C);

2. Asekol’ 4:06.85 PR; 3. Kazimierska’ 4:06.92 PR; 4. O’Sullivan 4:08.04; 5. Riggins 4:08.13; 6. Butler 4:08.31; 7. Howell 4:09.91; 8. ***Juliet Cherubet’ (TxT-Ken) 4:09.98; 9. **Riley Chamberlain (BYU) 4:10.24 PR; 10. Lorena Rangel Batres’ (LSU-Mex) 4:10.31; 11. *Mia Barnett (Or) 4:12.08; 12. **Suus Altorf’ (FlSt-Neth) 4:12.74.

II–1. Ramsden’ 4:06.00 (x, 6 C);

2. Bush 4:07.43 PR; 3. May’ 4:07.56; 4. Congdon 4:07.81 PR; 5. Schein-Becker 4:10.34; 6. Gracie Morris (TCU) 4:10.72; 7. ***Judy Kosgei’ (SC-Ken) 4:14.97; 8. ***Salma Elbadra’ (Wy-Mor) 4:15.24; 9. **Erin Vringer’ (Ut-Can) 4:16.66; 10. **Chloe Foerster (Wa) 4:17.48; 11. Kiara Carter (Lips) 4:23.76;… dnc—**Billah Jepkirui (OkSt).