FARMINGTON, Utah— Katie Camarena had about as good an encounter as a Portland State racer has ever had when competing at the Husky Classic last weekend. All she did was:
- Break own school records in the mile and 3k
- Set two Big Sky Conference records in the mile and 3k, breaking a 19-year-old record in the mile
- Beat a field in the invitational mile that included defending NCAA 3k indoor champion in BYU’s Courtney Wayment, as well as a 2020 Olympic finalist in the steeplechase in Britain’s Elizabeth Bird.
It all made the decision easier in the Big Sky conference offices, as Camarena was named Big Sky Indoor Track Female Athlete of the Week for the fourth time on Monday.
Camarena opened last weekend with 3k Friday, where she became the first woman in Big Sky Conference history to break nine minutes in the event. Camarena finished in 8:57.08, 19 seconds faster than the school record she set at the UW Indoor Preview on Jan. 15, and more than eight seconds faster than the Billie Hatch conference record of Weber State set at 9:05.50 just two weeks earlier at the UW Invitational. Southern Utah’s Allison Pray also fell under the old 3k mark, but was more than five seconds behind Camarena in 9:02.46.
Camarena placed third in the 3k on Friday, behind only Val Constien — a 2020 U.S. Olympian in the steeplechase — and Lauren Gregory of Arkansas. She beat an equally competitive field on Saturday in the mile, as her time of 4:32.27 led a field that included Wayment and Bird, as well as Gregory and several runners from the host University of Washington.
Camarena’s time over a mile marked a two-second improvement over the school record she set two weeks earlier at the UW Invitational. He also broke a 19-year-old conference record that Johanna Nilsson of northern Arizona – three-time NCAA indoor champion and 2005 NCAA cross-country champion – set at 4:32.49 in 2003.
Nationally, Camarena’s record weekend propelled her third in the mile and 11th in the 3,000 meters, putting her in a strong position to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in both events. No Viking has qualified for an NCAA Division I National Championship tie in more than one event, while only two Vikings have ever qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Camarena’s national ranking also means the Vikings rank 33rd nationally as a team, according to the USTFCCCA National Ranking Index.
Camarena and the Vikings next head to the Big Sky Indoor Championships, two weekends away, Feb. 24-26, in Bozeman, Mt.