Darien’s Alex Ostberg excels for Stanford cross country team

Darien’s Alex Ostberg, a senior at Stanford University, runs to a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Div. I cross country championships on Nov. 17. — Contributed photo

VERONA, Wisc. – Alex Ostberg of Darien has already had as great and accomplished of a college cross country career as any former distance runner from the FCIAC.

Ostberg had previously secured his status as being among the greatest high school distance runners in state history as a member of the Darien High School boys’ cross country and track and field teams.

This exceptional student-athlete chose Stanford University because it had the perfect combination of being a great academic institution and a perennially strong Division I distance running power.

And that great success Ostberg has had as a high school runner has continued into college.

Ostberg, a junior, concluded his excellent season by placing 13th in the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country Championships. He earned first-team All-America honors for the second consecutive year.

Ostberg had a time of 29:33.9 in freezing conditions and a couple inches of snow on the 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) Thomas Zimmer Championship Course on Nov. 17.

He was one of three Stanford runners who garnered All-America status as they led the Cardinal to fifth place – the fifth straight year the program finished in the top five.

Ostberg’s senior teammate, Grant Fisher, nearly became Stanford’s first-ever individual champion. But Wisconsin senior Morgan McDonald withstood Fisher’s finishing surge to beat him by a half of a second. McDonald won with a 29:08.3 and Fisher had a 29:08.8 to equal the highest finish ever by a Stanford runner.

Northern Arizona won the team title with 83 points. Brigham Young University was runner-up with 116 and Stanford placed fifth with 201.

The Stanford men’s and women’s programs both finished in the top five for the third straight year. No other school may lay claim to that distinction.

Ostberg finished three places higher than last year when he placed 16th as a sophomore and Stanford’s No. 2 runner when the Cardinal placed fourth in the team scoring.

This year he was again Stanford’s second fastest runner. Alek Parsons placed 30th as that third Stanford runner who earned All-America honors.

There were six seniors, three juniors, one sophomore and a pair of freshmen who finished ahead of Ostberg, who averaged a time of 4:45.5 per mile.

Ostberg’s 13th-place finish this year was the highest finish for a former FCIAC runner at the NCAA Division I men’s cross country championship race since former Westhill runner Kevin King placed 12th in 1983 as Georgetown’s top runner to lead the Hoyas to 11th place. The following year King was 17th and again the team’s top runner who led Georgetown to ninth place. About four months later King won the 3,000-meter run at the 1985 NCAA Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Ostberg did not compete in races last winter during the indoor track and field season and he ran in one 1,500-meter race during outdoor season.

Ostberg got his personal-best time of 13:59.35 in the 5,000 during his outdoor season as a sophomore. During his sophomore indoor season, Ostberg got his personal-best mile time of 4:05.74. His other current personal bests are 3:49.16 in the 1,500 and 8:46.97 in the 2-mile race.

Ostberg made the All-Pac-12 First Team for the second consecutive year and it was also the second straight year he earned Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention during this past cross country season.

Ostberg had so many victories and accomplishments in high school – perhaps most noteworthy in 2014 when he won the 5,000-meter run by 13 seconds at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals with his clocking of 14:16.61.

He placed 11th in the 2013 Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships to put himself on the radar of the nation’s best college running programs.

The following year, as a senior, Ostberg was 36 seconds faster than the runner-up, Ari Klau of Hall, when he set the 5K (3.1 miles) Wickham Park course record of 14:58 at the CIAC State Open Boys Cross Country Championships. He followed that up by winning the 2014 New England Championships and placing ninth at the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championshiips.

Ostberg has most definitely already had a great college career and yet there is still more to accomplish.

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