FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Oklahoma State standout German Fernandez can now add the title of NCAA Champion to his resume after he capped his remarkable freshman season with an individual title in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Saturday in a personal-best time of 3:39.00.
Fernandez sprinted out to the lead from the start and led the race wire-to-wire. After maintaining his lead for the first 1,000 meters, Fernandez picked up the pace when Arkansas' Dorian Ulrey, New Mexico's Lee Emanuel and Stanford's Garrett Heath began to challenge entering the final lap.
The group ran together for the first half of the final lap until Fernandez overpowered his competitors and pulled away in the final 200 meters to win by more than half a second.
"I knew I wanted to keep the pressure on and I knew I needed to save for the last 100 meters," Fernandez said. "I kept thinking, `I'm almost there.' At one point I thought I might get caught, but I knew that I had that extra gear for the last hundred."
Fernandez is the first Oklahoma State track and field athlete to win an individual NCAA championship since Cowboy Paul Larkins won the mile at the 1986 NCAA Outdoor Championships. He also earns All-America honors with his first-place finish, joining Ryan Vail, who earned the honor after finishing the 5,000 meters in ninth.
"It's a relief for me to get an NCAA Championship," Fernandez said. "I knew that there were a lot of people watching me and I wanted to give the fans a good show."
Fernandez's national title comes at his first NCAA Track and Field Championships. The freshman elected not to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships in preparation for the Junior World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan.
"This is huge for him and huge for our program," coach Dave Smith said. "It's hard to get surprised by him anymore with all the great things that he's done. He ran a phenomenal race today and showed a lot of confidence in leading from the start. He basically told the field, `Come and get me if you can,' and they couldn't."
Fernandez, who was named the Big 12 and Midwest Region Performer of the Year, moves to the No. 2 spot on OSU's all-time 1,500-meter list with his performance.
"We're very proud of German," Smith said. "As good of an athlete as he is, he's even a better person."
NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships
Men's 1,500-Meter Run Final 1 German Fernandez - Oklahoma State - 3:39.00 2 Garrett Heath - Stanford - 3:39.51 3 Lee Emanuel - New Mexico - 3:39.66 4 Dorian Ulrey - Arkansas - 3:39.93 5 Matthew Gibney - Villanova - 3:40.58 6 Liam Boylan-Pett - Georgetown - 3:41.11 7 Austin Abbott - Washington - 3:41.15 8 Jeff See - Ohio State - 3:41.18 9 Craig Miller - Wisconsin - 3:41.31 10 Michael Coe - California - 3:41.64 11 Jordan McNamara - Oregon - 3:42.42 12 David McCarthy - Providence - 3:44.55