German Fernandez = NCAA Champion

Oklahoma State's German Fernandez capped a remarkable freshman season on Saturday by winning the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The freshman from California won the race in a personal-best time of 3 minutes, 39.0 seconds.

Fernandez won the race after taking an early lead, and holding off second-place finisher Garrett Heath of Stanford, third-place finisher Lee Emanuel of New Mexico, and fourth-place finisher Dorian Ulrey of Arkansas down the stretch.

The OSU freshman pulled away in the final 200 meters to win by more than half a second after Heath, Emanuel and Ulrey made a move on the race's final lap.

"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 becomes the first Oklahoma State track athlete to win an NCAA individual title since Paul Larkins won the mile in 1986.

"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."

Oklahoma State head coach Dave Smith was proud of Fernandez.

"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.

"We're very proud of German," Smith added. "As good of an athlete as he is, he's even a better person."

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