News & Updates

9 June 2024 • Track and Field

Ramsden and May secure Kiwi one-two in NCAA 1500m final

Maia Ramsden and Kimberley May celebrate NCAA 1500m gold and silver in Eugene. Credit: (Getty Images).

Maia Ramsden signed off her NCAA career with Harvard University in style by mounting a successful defence of her NCAA 1500m title in Eugene, Oregon today to lead home a stunning New Zealand one-two from Kimberley May.

Ramsden, who placed tenth in the 1500m final at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships in March, produced a dominant display to stop the clock in 4:06.62 to further underline her huge potential.

Aucklander May, a Providence College student, who has enjoyed a huge breakthrough season unleashed a ferocious kick over the last lap to advance from seventh to silver, posted 4:08.07 – just 1.07 seconds shy of her PB set in Lexington two weeks earlier. Oregon State University student Klaudia Kazimierska took bronze in 4:08.22.

Ramsden, who also won NCAA mile gold earlier this year and who last month in Los Angeles set a PB of 4:02.58 – within 0.08 of the Olympic entry standard time – was content to sit second behind Lindsey Butler for the first half of the race before making her move on the penultimate lap to hit the bell almost a full second clear of her nearest rival.

The 22-year-old Harvard University student, who spent a period of her childhood based in Wellington, then accelerated further clear of the field to romp to an impressive win and clinch a second successive NCAA 1500m crown.  

May, who in March collected the NCAA Indoor mile bronze medal behind Ramsden, was in mid-pack for much of the race before revealing impressive final lap speed to take a brilliant silver medal.

Ramsden told Athletics NZ: “The race did not go as expected, I thought the race record was within grasp of 4:05 and both heats were close to it, so we thought that was a chance. I personally find it easier if it goes out quite quick, it makes it simpler and less messy. But I had to change my plan. My coach had spoken about if we go out slow to take the lead a bit earlier and try to stretch out the field a little. It was good to practice that, it is one thing to run those splits at the end of a workout in practice so to have executed that in a race was really good, even though I tied up a bit at the end. 

“It was really good to take back to back titles. It is a different thing to come into the race and to defend the title rather than get it that first time, it is definitely nerve-wracking. 

“It was a good meet for (World Athletics) points and it was a good tune up. I’m racing next weekend (at the Harry Jerome Classic in Vancouver) and we’ll go from there. I’m feeling good and definitely in a taper right now. I’m feeling super happy, so hopefully that good feeling carries on into next weekend’s race as well.”

An ecstatic May was delighted a change in race tactics reaped rewards and speaking to FloTrack she said: “We decided to do something new. I’ve been doing a lot of leading, and it hasn’t been working, so today we wanted to have a bit more in the tank so I could finish strongly over the last 400m.  

“It felt really good on that last lap, it was a bit chaotic, I got spiked but I was patient. With 300m to go I got a bit lucky on the inside and with 200m to go I felt good so I just coming down that home straight as fast as I could.”

On New Zealand finishing one-two she said “it was really cool.”

The performance in Eugene, Oregon adds further sheen on what has already been a vintage year of New Zealand middle-distance running. At the World Indoor Championships in March George Beamish claimed a stunning gold medal in the men’s 1500m final and last month James Preston lowered the 62-year-old national record of Sir Peter Snell in the men’s 800m, running 1:44.04 in Pfungstadt, Germany.  

***Full results from the 2024 NCAA Track & Field Championships go here