BUTTE — Becca Richtman is on the final stretch of her stellar running career with Montana Tech.
The Elburn, Illinois, native left the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships in early March with three more All-American honors to bring her total haul to seven, all at Tech.
She won the one mile and 3000 meter races at the indoor championships and took second in the 5K by just 00.36 seconds.
Her effort there was enough to earn her MVP honors. But for a runner who has grown accustomed to winning — and was aiming for a triple crown — the lingering feeling was one of disappointment.
"Yeah, that hurt pretty bad," Richtman said. "I was definitely the most upset person there. Everyone else was pretty proud. But it really hurt for me. Like I knew I could do it. Even when I crossed the finish line I thought I just made a couple of tactical errors."
But with Tech now in the early stages of its first outdoor track and field season, Richtman has again established herself as an elite middle and long distance runner. Her latest accolade was winning the 5K at the Al Manuel Invitational in Missoula on Saturday in runaway fashion, finishing over a minute ahead of the second-place runner with a time of 17:09.65.
Richtman has been the core of Tech's cross country team and indoor track and field team. She's quickly become the focal points of the Orediggers outdoor track and field team as well.
"We really wouldn't be the same program without having brought Becca in," said Zach Kughn, a former Montana State runner who is the head coach of all three of Tech's programs. "And not just that but the development she's had since being here. That shows what's possible at Montana Tech. There's really no limit there as far as how good an athlete can be."
With her sights now set on the Frontier Conference championships and national meet, the next two months are about solidifying her place as one of the top runners in the country, but also about enjoying the experience.
"One thing I'm really trying to take close to heart right now is the team experience," said Richtman, who reasoned that she'll have plenty of wins after college but only a little time left with her team in Butte.
And with that second-place finish in the 5K at the indoor national meet still fresh in her mind, she's determined that — if someone's going to outrun her — they're gonna have to earn it.
"I really think it motivates me to run all out," Richtman said. "If someone's gonna beat me, they better have a really good effort."