Chad Noelle finished off a perfect season Friday by winning the 1,500-meter title at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., becoming the 15th Cowboy in school history to win an individual title.
Noelle came into the 1,500-meter final with the fastest time in the NCAA and the ninth fastest American time of 2015 in the event.
The four-time All-American ended his junior campaign with the Cowboys by claiming his first ever NCAA title and the Cowboys' first Outdoor title since German Fernandez in 2009. He ran a 3:54.96 to bring home the gold and finish the 2015 outdoor season without a loss in the 1,500-meter run.
“I looked up to German Fernandez when I was in high school,” Noelle said. “To come to his school and win another 1,500-meter title is just amazing. I love Stillwater, I love OSU and I'm thankful for everything they've done for me. I'm really happy that I can give something back to the school after everything.”
The race started with a sluggish pace as all thirteen finalists bunched together for a first lap that took 63 seconds to complete.
“Dave [Smith] and Bobby [Lockhart] have been absolutely huge for me this year,” Noelle said. “Buying into their stuff has just put me on another level. Smith is all about aerobics and endurance and I've been able to connect really well with Bobby working with him day in and day out with race tactics.”
The leaders began to pull away on the backstretch of the bell lap, but the race was still anyone's with 100 meters to go just before Noelle kicked past Air Force's Zach Perkins and Villanova's Jordan Williamsz for the victory. Although the championship run wasn't fast from the start, Noelle ran his final lap in 52 seconds and each of the top-nine finishers had times within a second of each other.
“This has been a dream of mine,” Noelle said. “Every runner wants to win an NCAA title before they're done and you have to be lucky and good to get one and I was both of those, today. It's just an amazing feeling.”
The Cowboys finished 19th with 10 team points, barely missing out on a second straight top-15 finish by three points.
Kirubel Erassa's storied outdoor career as a Cowboy came to an end Friday when the senior ran in the 5,000-meter outdoor championship race for a third and final time. The seven-time Big 12 Champion and eight-time All-American grabbed his leg and pulled up with two laps to go and could not finish the race.
Natalja Piliusina and Savannah Camacho will run in Saturday's finals for the Cowgirls at the final day of the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Camacho will run in her first outdoor 800-meter national final and Piliusina will look to defend her 2013 1,500-meter title after being away from the track nearly two years.