Shelby Houlihan, 26

Arizona State University

Personal Bests:

  • 800m: 2:01.12

  • Mile: 4:23.0

  • 1500m: 3:57.34

  • 5000m: 14:34.45

social handle: @shelbo800


Shelby has always been fast. Sprinter fast. Like Harry Potter riding a broomstick, snatching the snitch fast. As a high schooler in Sioux City, Iowa, she won the 4A State Championship in Cross Country, the 1500m, the 800m, AND the 400m. She continued to demonstrate that incredible range as a collegian at Arizona State. She won the Pac-12 title in Cross Country to go with three 1,500m titles and two 5,000m titles in addition to her 2:01 personal best at 800m. Shelby finished college as a 12-time NCAA All-American and won the NCAA 1500m title in 2014. In 2015, she came within a hair’s breadth of making it two in a row.

After finishing up at Arizona State in 2015, Shelby moved to Portland to join the Bowerman Track Club. She had immediate success indoors, setting a lifetime 5,000m PR of 15:06. She was disappointed to not make the US World Indoor team that year, but she got the far more coveted prize at the Olympic Trials that summer. There she bettered her 5,000m PR on the biggest stage of her life to that point, taking 2nd and earning a spot on the Olympic Team for Rio. In Rio, she made the final and finished 11th.
In 2017, Shelby went from finishing high at US Championships to winning them. She won both the mile and the two mile Indoors and the 5,000m outdoors. She set a new 5,000m PR of 15:00 in the heats at the World Championships in London and finished 13th in the final.

It was another year of breakthroughs for Shelby in 2018, as she went from winning US races to international ones. Not that she stopped winning those domestic races, either. US titles in the Indoor 3,000m, Outdoor 5,000m, and Indoor/Outdoor 1,500m were added to the trophy case, by way of her distinctive burst in the final 100m. She impressed at the Indoor World Championships in Birmingham where she finished 4th in the 1,500m and 5th in the 3,000m. However, it was the Prefontaine Classic was where she put the world on notice that she was on a whole different level. With a huge final lap, she went from 10th to 1st and won her first Diamond League in her first sub-4 clocking (3:59). She followed up that performance with a second Diamond League win in Lausanne in another PR (3:57) and set the American Record for 5,000m in Heusden, Belgium at 14:34.

Shelby comes from a large family of runners. Her Mom Connie was a professional marathoner and her sister Shayla competed professionally as a steeplechaser and coaches at the University of California. Her Dad is Bob and she has five other siblings: Kelly, Rob, Ryann, Chloe, and Callie. She is always bouncing into practice on hard workout days, both because she is the springiest athlete on the team and because she loves to run hard. Her other great loves are her cat, Miko, Harry Potter, and #FrenchBreadFriday.