ASU track and field senior Shelby Houlihan led for nearly the entire race.
Just not at the finish line.
In the women's 1500-meter, Mississippi State's Rhianwedd Price passed Houlihan just before the tape to win the NCAA Championship on Saturday, denying Houlihan back-to-back titles.
Like she did in the semifinal, Houlihan set the pace for the race, leading after each of the first three laps. Price initially made her push with less than 300 meters left, but Houlihan fought it off. Price had one last kick in store in the final 100, and won the race in 4:09.56, while Houlihan placed second with a personal and ASU record of 4:09.67.
“The 1500m was a tremendous race, Shelby led for 1490 meters, and then overtaken at the line,” ASU distance coach Louie Quintana told the team's site. “Shelby executed our plan wonderfully, was unaware of the girl from Mississippi State’s late charge, and it’s a of a bummer that she couldn’t repeat. She ran a personal best, so we can’t be too disappointed."
2015 was the third time Houlihan has scored for ASU at the NCAA outdoor meet. She won the 2014 national championship at 4:18.10 and was seventh in 2013 at 4:14.95.
About 100 minutes after her runner-up in the 1500, Houlihan finished seventh in the 5000, overcoming the obstacle of being the only one competing the 1500/5000 double. Houlihan could have got down on herself early in the race when she fell behind, but made the best of the situation, catapulting from 18th all the way to seventh, behind the best final 800 split (2:27.36) and second-best final 1600 split (5:00.92) of the race.
Houlihan only ran the 5000 twice this season entering the race, and her 15:49.72 performance put her second in ASU history.
"I can't say enough great things about Shelby Houlihan and what she’s meant for our program, said Greg Kraft, ASU's director of track and field, to the site. "Nothing she did today diminished her legacy at ASU, in my opinion it only enhanced it. The way she handled her disappointment and just got ready for the next race just shows you what a bright future she has as a next-level competitor."
For the second straight year, Houlihan was the only Sun Devil to score in the meet, earning 10 points from her two races, the same point total she gave ASU in her win last year. ASU finished tied for 20th while Oregon took home the championship.
Elsewhere in the field, freshman thrower Maggie Ewen made her debut at the NCAA championships, placing 12th in the discus on Saturday and 22nd in shot put Thursday. Her personal record of 186 feet, 8 inches in the discus would have placed her fifth, but she has to settle for being the top freshman finisher in the event.
Houlihan: second (4:09.67), eight points; second in semifinal (4:16.87)
Houlihan seventh (15:49.72), two points
Ewen: 22nd (49 feet, 1.5 inches)
Ewen: 12th (172 feet, 8 inches)
Brianna Tate: 13th (52.91)
4X400: 19th (3:40.06)
4X100: 19th (45.09)