Germán is chased but not caught

Germán Fernández is going places fast.

The 18-year-old freshman at Oklahoma State University blazed to an early lead in the NCAA Division I 1,500-meter championship race last Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., and pulled away from three late challengers to earn the national title.

"It turned out to be a great race and a great finish," said Fernández, who finished in 3:39.0, ahead of Stanford's Garrett Heath (3:39.51), New México's Lee Emanuel (3:39.66) and Arkansas' Dorian Ulrey (3:39.93).

The time was a personal best for Fernández, the Riverbank native who won the 2008 California cross country title along with the 1,500- and 3,000-meter championships. He was named the Big 12 Conference performer of the year.

"I knew I wanted to keep the pressure on and I knew I needed to save for the last 100 meters," said Fernández. "I kept thinking, 'I'm almost there.' At one point I thought I might get caught, but I knew I had that extra gear for the last 100."

Oklahoma State coach Dave Smith called Fernández's win "huge for him and huge for our program."

"It's hard to get surprised by him anymore with all the great things that he's done," said Smith. "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."