Hoare and Ellenwood cap off stellar season, career with national titles

With titles in the men's 1500 and women's heptathlon, Wisconsin was one of only five schools with a men's and women's individual national champion.

Image By: Photo courtesy of UW Track & Field / AJ Harrison

In college track and field, outdoor nationals is king. Results at nationals set the lens through which an athlete’s season is defined, whether that’s dominating, breakout or disappointing.

The 2018 Division 1 NCAA Outdoor National Championships, held June 6th-9th in Eugene, Oregon, provided the perfect setting for a pair of Badgers to collect their first national titles, capping off a standout year and a standout career.

Sophomore distance runner Oliver Hoare, competing in the 1500 meter run, was first to the punch. Despite having captured four Big Ten titles in both track and cross country this year, the Sydney, Australia native was an afterthought amongst the favorites coming into the meet. Most of the attention from the media — and the other racers — was focused on three-time national champion and NCAA record-holder Josh Kerr of New Mexico.

While the rest of the field expended valuable energy trying to run Kerr off their heels in the last lap, Hoare waited patiently before unleashing a kick in the final 150 meters to claim the title in a time of three minutes and 44.77 seconds. The result came as a shock to many, but after dominating Big Ten competition all year, Hoare was primed to stay competitive on the national stage.

“The caliber of the field this year was incredible,” Hoare said to Letsrun.com after the race. “I really wanted to go out and see what I could do … It’s hard to put yourself as the winner, but I really gave it my all and came out with an amazing win.”

If Hoare’s win was the capstone for a breakout season, then heptathlete Georgia Ellenwood’s title served as the icing on the cake of a historic career in Madison. Already a seven-time All American coming and two-time Big Ten champion entering the meet, a national title was the only piece of hardware that the Canadian senior had not captured.

Ellenwood didn’t take the overall lead from Georgia’s Louisa Grauvogel until after the fifth of seven events, but her winning performance was built on the back of a strong start. The senior set personal bests in the 100 meter hurdles and high jump on day one, and then held on for the win with strong performances in the javelin and long jump on day two.

"I think I'm still processing the whole thing and it doesn't really feel like I won yet. I think it hasn't really sunk in yet," Ellenwood said to UWBadgers.com. “So many great heptathletes who have come through the program. To know that I'm one of them and I'm the best one that's come through Wisconsin hasn't really hit me yet.”

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