By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Four years ago, Stillwater High School cross country runner Noah Gade set a goal to be the best runner not only in the state, but also in Pioneer history.
It seemed like a tall task at the time, but after winning Stillwater’s first individual title in 23 years Gade can now say he is one of the best — if not the best — runner in school history.
“It’s really cool,” Gade said. “Of course, there are a lot of good runners to come through Stillwater — Tyson Echelle, all the Towers, Joe Weis. It’s nice just to even be mentioned in the same sentence as them.”
A state championship by his senior season may have been the goal for Gade from Day 1 of his high school career, but it was the countless hours pounding the pavement and pushing himself to be better where that championship was won.
“Looking back through all four years, it’s nice to know that all the work that you do put in does pay off,” Gade said. “It’s especially sweet to have it end this way in my senior year. Throughout my entire high school career, I had to stay focused. If you want to get to a high level at any sport you have to be focused at all times.”
Focus never seemed to be a problem for Gade, however. While most of his competitors were off doing other things, Gade was training. Not even snow, wind or rain would keep him from winning that elusive title.
“If Noah sets his mind to something he’ll do it,” Stillwater cross country coach Dan Zeroski said. “His freshman year, he said he wanted to win state and he did. He set his mind to it, he was very disciplined and he’s just the type of kid you want your kid to be like.
“Noah’s such a self-disciplined kid, he’s not the type of kid you would have to say anything else to. If he sets his mind to it he’s going to do it. He’s different in that regard. He’s not like some other runners in the state where you have to constantly keep pushing him. He pushes himself harder than anyone else and he’s going to continue to push himself to get better.”
If he wasn’t pushing himself enough during races, the thought of other runners on his tail certainly did the trick. Even in the few races he did run for the Pioneers this season, Gade refused to accept anything but first place.
“(When you win a race) it’s relieving really,” Gade said. “It’s sort of overwhelming. I don’t think it sinks in right away. More than anything you’re relieved that you were able to hold off everyone else that last mile.”
Gade will finish his high school career with the Foot Locker South Regional this weekend in North Carolina. If he finishes in the top 10, he will advance to the national meet on Dec. 8 in San Diego, Calif.
But beyond that, Gade doesn’t expect to leave Stillwater any time soon, except for the occasional meet.
“Last Thursday, I committed to run at Oklahoma State,” Gade said. “It’s really cool. Obviously I’ve been in the same town as the program the four years that I’ve run here. It’s a goal that I’ve had for a long time and it’s nice to see that I was actually able to achieve that.”
His entire career, Gade has had a knack for setting up goals and knocking them out one by one. And knowing what Gade’s goals are for the future, there’s no doubt in Zeroski’s mind that Gade will have an impact for the Cowboys in the near future.
“His goal is to run on the varsity team and he will do it someday,” Zeroski said.