Law School Plans Temporarily Shelved for Princeton Steeplechaser, by Roy Stevenson, note by Larry Eder

Dave Hunter wrote about Ashley Higginson, who took a very close fourth in the women's steeplechase. I had met Ashley at a dinner for Saucony athletes around the New Balance Boston Indoor last February. She loved the sport and was excited to see how close she could come to qualifying for the Olympic Trials. She did more than that.....

Higginson_Ashley-OlyT12.jpgAshley Higginson, 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Steeplechase
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By Roy Stevenson

EUGENE, Oregon
June 30, 2012

Twenty three-year old Ashley Higginson graduated from Princeton in 2011 and had to make a decision: continue to Law School or pursue her distance running career to see what she could accomplish.

Ranked 38th on the 2011 U.S. All-Time list in with a 10:00.78 performance behind 15 other steeplechasers, and a 9:52.73 2010 fastest time, Higginson certainly looked promising, but did not appear to be near the top of the pile, or able to mix it with the heavies like Coburn, Franek and Aguilera.

But with her strong fourth 3,000m steeplechase place yesterday in the Olympic trials, postponing Law School would seem like a good decision for now. She made her presence felt in the final, shadowing Coburn and DiCrescenzo in lap 3, and Coburn and Franek in lap 4, and then hanging tough through the final grueling laps to slip into fourth place, relatively unnoticed in a hugely improved time of 9:38.06. "I was not ready to go", she says of Law School. "I couldn't take the chance of asking myself later, 'What if?' That's something I would regret".

Perhaps Higginson, who is a volunteer assistant coach for the Tigers, and now runs for NJ-NYTC, was fifth seeded in steeplechase at the U.S.A. Outdoor Champs last year, but Midwest storms left her stranded at the airport, causing her to miss the race.

Perhaps we should not be surprised that Higginson is showing such promise; she's had a stellar HS and Collegiate career with individual cross country titles in the New Jersey State and Nike Nationals Cross Country meets while running for Colts High School, NJ. While an undergrad at Princeton, Ashley was instrumental in helping her team win the Heptagonal Conference for four years straight (in which she also won the individual title four times), and two top five team finishes at the NCAA meet in 2007 and 2009.

Show me a good cross country runner, and I'll show you a solid steeplechaser--and Higginson fits the mold nicely. She thrived on the track in her Princeton years. She won two Heptagonal Conference Champs titles in the steeplechase and 3000m flat events. She won the East Regional and placed third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She won the 3000m and 5000m Heptagonal Conference Championships in her senior year, and came in fifth in the NCAA 3000m in a PB of 9:14.47.

Then came her Heptagonal Conference steeplechase win followed by sixth place at the NCAA outdoors in her final senior outdoor races.

Working with fellow steepler Delilah DiCrescenzo at NJ-NYTC, under coach Frank Gagliano, and with her outstanding performances and background, it's really just a matter of time before Ashley breaks into the top trio in the steeplechase with a splash, in this grueling event.

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