Ollie Hoare has completed an incredible sophomore year by winning the 1500 metre title at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The University of Wisconsin student stormed home in a tactical and physical final at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon in the US early on Sunday morning (AEST).
Hoare was near the back of the field heading into the final lap but ran a sensational finish in wet and slippery conditions to reel in three-time NCAA champion Josh Kerr, who broke the NCAA 1500m record in April.
The Caringbah distance runner finished in a time of 3 minutes, 44.77 seconds to become the first Badger to win the event since Don Gehrmann, a UW legend who won a trio of NCAA outdoor titles between 1948 to 1950.
It was also the school’s first national title in any track event in more than a decade.
It had already been a historic year for Hoare who won four Big Ten Conference titles during the 2017-18 season. He won the Big Ten cross country title before winning both the 3000 and 5000m 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 won the 1500m title at the outdoor conference meet.
The result highlighted the magnitude of Hoare’s season after he was knocked out in the first heat of regional qualifying for the event last year.
“It’s a crazy year. Something has clicked for me. I’ve really taken advantage of my coaches [and] the boys back in my second home in Madison,” Hoare said after the race.
“Really just taking everything into account and making it work for me. A more hands on approach to my training showed me that I can be a formidable athlete.
“I just didn’t want to put myself in the position where I’m thinking I’m only second best or third best. I want to be the best. And I think that progression for me was all about setting no limits.”
To make it an even more special day Hoare’s mum, Kate, had flown in from Sydney to watch her son race.
“I like to go into a race thinking I can win it. The calibre this year was incredible, Josh Kerr is a formidable athlete. But I really wanted to see what I could do. Going in it seemed like it was anyone’s race,” Hoare said.
“That last bend coming off the 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 thought I got this, I’m going to take out this race.
“I like to go into a race thinking like that but definitely having a deep field like that it’s hard to put yourself as a winner but I really gave it my all and came out with an amazing result for me.
“For every athlete you want to stay out of trouble as much as possible. All those boys were in a good spot and were relaxed and comfortable. Moving around can get overwhelming and I just wanted to make sure I stayed off that rail, kept clear.
“I got clipped a couple of times and I know a couple of the other boys did but I just tried to stay composed even if that happened to keep pushing through because you still have a lap, 200 metres to go and I just wanted to make sure I had something left in the tank.”
Last year, Hoare became the first freshman in the school’s history to break the four-minute mile, completing the 1600m journey in 3 minutes, 59.7 seconds at the St Louis Track Club’s Festival of Miles Championship.