Senior Janelle Noe finished fourth in the 1500m semifinals with a time of 4:10.83 at the NCAA Track and Field Championships Thursday in Eugene, Ore.
Noe’s time qualified her for Saturday’s finals and beat her personal record by six seconds.
“Honestly, I was just going out there and trying to stay within striking distance of the top six or seven for automatic qualifying,” Noe said. “I just kept telling myself to hang on and focused on staying in that top seven group, and then made a move in the last 400 meters to stay solid.”
Noe’s strategy today was similar to how she has run all season: stay with the lead group and turn up the heat in the final stretch.
“The strategy was ‘top five qualifies,’ so I told her to get out in the front and kind of chill toward the back of the top five and see where you are,” Head Coach Linh Nguyen said. “I told her if the lead group really goes crazy, you can let them go a little bit because you can be top seven and be fast and still make finals. She was going to let them go if they went too fast, but I told her to run how you feel.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s finals, Noe and Nguyen both agreed on a new strategy: have fun.
“I never really thought about racing in NCAA finals and having a shot to win it all because I never thought I’d be able to make it this far,” Noe said. “I’m just going to go out there Saturday and run as hard as I can and whatever place I end up with, I’m going to be happy with it. I guess I’ll make my goal top eight to get first-team (All-America), but, honestly, I’m just going to go out there and run as hard as I can and whatever happens, happens.”
The 1500m finals are set to begin at 6:41 p.m. Eastern time Saturday, June 9. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN.