By Nick Snow
SAN DIEGO —
In most of Stillwater High School senior Noah Gade’s races he’s usually been the one setting the pace.
Saturday, Gade found himself in unfamiliar territory after a fall 600 meters into the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships at Morley Field in San Diego — Gade’s final cross country meet of his high school career.
“I stared 25th and then about a quarter of a mile to 600 meters in I took a hard fall,” Gade said. “At that point, I panicked and I tried to catch up to the group but I spent all my energy trying to catch back up. It was sort of a bad tactical move on my part, but sometimes it just goes that way. I’ll get them next time, I guess.”
Gade finished 36th overall with a time of 16:11, a little over a minute off his qualifying pace two weeks ago in the regional meet in Charlotte, N.C.
But even the fall couldn’t dampen the spirits of the always smiling Stillwater senior.
“It was great,” Gade said. “It’s good to know that I got to race as part of the 40 top runners in the country. It’s a great weekend and a great meet. It was really fun to be out here.
“I was really confident going into the race. I had a good race plan and I got out well and I thought I was executing it well. It just didn’t go the way I had hoped. Sometimes you have days like that.”
The trip to San Diego wasn’t a total loss for Gade. Along with his hotel and a plethora of free merchandise from the meet’s various sponsors, Gade also spent time with the best cross country runners in the nation — some of whom he will be competing against next year at Oklahoma State.
“It was a blast,” Gade said. “Getting to know all the guys, you meet some great friends. It’s just a lot of fun to know that you’re out here with 39 other guys that make up the top 40 in the country. It’s outstanding.”
Gade said didn’t ask them for any training tips, instead just enjoyed their company and the various activities that he and his family had planned.
But somewhere in the back of his mind, the thought lingered that this will be the final cross country meet of Gade’s high school career.
“It’s kind of sad when you think about it,” Gade said. “You start to look back at your high school career and what you accomplished there. At the same time it’s exciting to look forward to next year and the years to come knowing it will be on a bigger stage at a higher level.”
With the race over, not only is Gade looking ahead to Stillwater’s track season but he’s also looking ahead to his career at Oklahoma State.
“I’m very excited,” Gade said. “They have a great program and great coaches and a great team. I’m excited that I get to be a part of that next year and hopefully contribute.”