By Abigail Winn

Madie Boreman wasn’t even thinking about qualifying for the NCAA championships this season. But she did that and more. She took second place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase final and set a new American junior record.

“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” she said. “It’s feels really surreal right now.”

The Colorado University freshman took second with a time of 9 minutes, 46.48 seconds, around five seconds behind the winner, Boise State freshman Allie Ostrander, at 9:41.31. Penn State senior Tori Gerlach took third.

Fourth-place finisher Elinor Purrier said she didn’t really see Boreman and Gerlach pass her in the last 100 meters for the podium. “It was kind of a blur,” she said.

This was Boreman’s first official season competing in the steeplechase, aside from a few tries in high school. In high school, she specialized in the 1,600 meters and the 3,200 meters, earning eight regional track championship titles in the events.

Her finish today surprised her.

“I won Pac-12s, but my time wasn’t in the top rankings,” she said. “We didn’t really prepare for this.”

Regardless of the outcome, Boreman knows there are big shoes to fill at her university. Jenny Simpson, the first American woman to ever medal in the 1,500 meters at the Olympics, is a 2009 graduate of Colorado University.

“It’s kinda hard to go to Colorado and not know the people that have run there before you,” she said. “It definitely helps being able to have people that are better than you and use them as a goal.”

Her current role model? Sophomore and fellow teammate Dani Jones, who took fifth in Saturday’s 1,500-meter event.

“She’s the most relaxed and amazing runner I’ve ever seen,” she said. “She’s a really smart runner, and I really value being able to go off of her.”

Looking ahead, Boreman is ready for a break. Even with her new record, she’s not considering running for Team USA.

“I probably won’t,” she said. “This season has been really long.”