by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Emma Bates, who never quite achieved a state championship while running for Elk River High School, now has a national championship as a college runner.
The Boise State junior won the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Division I meet on Thursday evening in Eugene, Ore. Her time of 32 minutes. 32.35 seconds was the second-fastest in the history of the meet, although she beat Elinor Kirk of Alabama-Birmingham by only .64 of a second in a thriller.
Bates, who placed third in the 10,000 at nationals last year, will run in the 5,000 meters on Saturday. She placed seventh last year.
Bates was a five-time all-stater in cross country in high school. She was state runner-up by less than a second, almost catching the leader at the end, her senior year when she led the Elks to the 2009 state championship. She also medaled several times in track in the 1600 and 3200. She almost won the 1600 in her final prep race, leading down the last straightway before three girls passed her at the end. But Bates held on Thursday evening in Oregon.
Bates is the second former Elk to capture a NCAA D-1 championship this year, joining Laura Ryan, Georgia senior diver who won both the one-meter and three-meter titles at the University of Minnesota in March.