Aptos High alumna Nikki Hiltz took sixth place in the 1,500-meter final at Saturday’s USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, cementing her spot as the top collegian in the event this season and earning All-American status.

Hiltz, a redshirt junior at the University of Arkansas, battled through triple-digit heat and finished the race in 4 minutes, 10.28 seconds. It was the second fastest time in program history, falling just short of Dominique Scott’s record of 4:08.16.

“It was hot and it was fast but I just had fun,” Hiltz said in an interview with Flotrack moments after the race. “It was awesome competing against my idols.”

One of her idols, Jenny Simpson, a multiple time olympian who won the bronze in the 1,500 last year at Rio, finished first in 4:06.33. Kate Grace (4:06.95) and Sara Vaughn (4:07.85) took the U.S.’s other two qualifying spots for the IAAF World Championships, which are set to take place in early August at London.

“This race was definitely humbling,” Hiltz said.

The race concludes Hiltz’s breakout junior season in which she won the Southeastern Conference championship in the 1,500 and took second in the event at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Hiltz also placed sixth in the mile at the NCAA Track and Field Indoor Championships at the end of the winter.

“I set goals for myself and I hit all of them,” Hiltz said. “I wanted to P.R… and then I wanted to be the top collegiate. I’m pretty happy.”

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