Badger sophomore wins NCAA 1500m championship - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badger sophomore wins NCAA 1500m championship

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EUGENE, Ore. –  Wisconsin men’s track and field’s Ollie Hoare capped off his storybook sophomore season with a fairytale ending, winning the 1500 meters at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Friday at Historic Hayward Field.

Hoare took down three-time NCAA champion Josh Kerr of New Mexico and the rest of the talented field as the Badger sophomore crossed the line in 3 minutes, 44.77 seconds, which included a final lap of 53.01.

“The caliber of the field this year was incredible,” Hoare said. “I really wanted to go in and see what I could do. In the beginning of that race it seemed like it was anyone’s race, and that last bit when I came off that straight, I just pumped my arms and pushed through and I was getting closer and closer to that line. I think for me, by that point I was thinking ‘I’ve got this, I’m going to take out this race’. I always go into races thinking like that, but definitely having a deep field like that it’s hard to put yourself as the winner, but I really gave it my all and I came out with an amazing win.”

“As coaches, we get to be around some amazing athletes at some incredible events,” UW Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mick Byrne said. “Tonight was one of these special nights as Ollie did a super job executing our race plan. I knew it would come down to the last 200 meters and possibly the last 100. I emphasized patience as I knew Ollie had the extra gear to run with anyone out there, but I also knew that he had to use that gear last. He made the last move and it was decisive.

“I’m very happy for Ollie, and of course his mom, Kate, who flew in from Australia to see him race.”

It marks the first time a Badger has won the event since Mr. Mile of Wisconsin and UW legend Don Gehrmann won a trio of NCAA outdoor titles from 1948-50.

“That’s extremely special, especially with the heritage and tradition that Wisconsin has with distance.” Hoare said. “I’ve been here, done my research on the past athletes who have come through and it’s incredible. To know that, it’s very humbling and it’s also very reassuring that I’m in the right place for me. That’s amazing, I didn’t realize it was 1948. I’m completely stoked and I’m just going to cherish this and enjoy the rest of the NCAA championships.”

The national championship caps off an historic year for Hoare, as the sophomore won four Big Ten Conference titles during the 2017-18 season. He won the Big Ten cross country title last fall before winning both the 3000 and 5000 meters at the Big Ten indoor meet en route to winning Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championship honors. Following a pair of All-America honors at the NCAA indoor meet, Hoare claimed the 1500-meter title at the outdoor conference meet.

“It’s a crazy year,” Hoare said. “Something’s clicked for me and I’ve really taken advantage of my coaches and my teammates back in Madison. Just taking everything into account and making everything work for me. I took a more hands-on approach in my training and it really showed me that I can be a formidable athlete, an NCAA-qualifying athlete.

“I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I was thinking I could be the third-best or second-best, I wanted to be the best.”

Hoare got off to a great start and was in the top three with 800 meters to go, which was part of the race plan. But the sophomore ended up towards the back of the pack heading into the final 400 meters of the national championship.

That didn’t derail Hoare, as he bounced to the outside and made his way into the top-six runners with just over 200 meters to go.

After running around the Bowerman Curve at Historic Hayward Field, Hoare made his way into the top four, where he outkicked Kerr, Virginia Tech senior Vincent Ciattei and Ole Miss senior Robert Dominac to win his first career NCAA title.

“It’s a final at the national championship, and all of these boys are extremely talented,” Hoare said. “I wanted to make sure I was clear. I had no anxieties, no worries and I just wanted to make sure I gave that last 200 everything that I had. Coming off that straight and pushing as hard as I could, I was able to come through and take out the win. There’s nothing else I can say, I ran the best possible race I could and it ended up being an NCAA championship win so I’m extremely excited about it.

“I’m excited about next season. I’m excited to run with the boys in cross country. I know I’m taking a step in the right direction.”

Hoare is the first Badger to win a NCAA track title since Chris Solinsky won the 5000 meters at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.  He is the 19th Badger to win a men’s individual NCAA title and the third UW male to win an NCAA title under Byrne (Michael Lihrman, 2014-15, Zach Ziemek, 2016).

The 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships wrap up on Saturday as Georgia Ellenwood and Alicia Monson will be in action. Ellenwood will open the final day of the heptathlon at 1:30 p.m. CT with the long jump while Alicia Monson will race in the 5000 meters at 7:25 p.m. CT.

--Wisconsin Athletic Communications

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