Oliver, Ollie or Olli — Hoare’s Middle Name Must Be “Fast”

Wisconsin’s Oliver Hoare has positioned himself for another NCAA 1500 victory lap. (MIKE SCOTT)

WISCONSIN’S Oliver Hoare is taking dead aim at his second consecutive NCAA outdoor 1500 title. Last year, formcharted as the No. 5 seed going in, he was certainly more than a little of a surprise winner despite solid credentials. This time around, the 22-year-old junior by way of Australia won’t catch any of his rivals unaware. Hoare made sure of that at the Clay Invitational with an outdoor-world-leading 3:37.20 to edge Arizona’s Carlos Villarreal by 0.02 in a race chock-full of PRs.

So, what’s up with all this racing stuff, Oliver? Or Ollie? Or “Olli,” as his family calls him. (“Just not ‘Olivia,’ he laughs.)

Got some confidence, Oliver? Oh yeah. Lots of that, engendered by training with multi-NCAA distance champ and fellow Aussie Morgan McDonald, along with a host of talented young Badgers. As a 10-year-old, Hoare, then a swimmer like his mom, met McDonald, a teammate he now calls an “inspiration and a leader.”

Got some speed, Ollie? Oh yeah. First off, he’s fast; he knows he is; and he’s not afraid to hold his kick in abeyance until just the right moment. “I’m pretty confident, though I’d like to not show my cards until nationals. I have the confidence that I can run with anyone coming down that last 300 or so.”

Got the racing chops, Olli? Oh yeah. Now in his third collegiate season, he’s learning more every year about himself and how to race, and perhaps most importantly, how to adjust on the fly when the race plan goes out the window. “I learned freshman year that there’s a matter of instinct as to how the race pans out,” he says. “The more 1500 races you compete in the better you are at dealing with it.”

As for leading the world at this early juncture, Hoare calls it “kinda crazy” but acknowledges that global lead won’t last long. “Last week was pretty awesome,” he says. “I wanted to go out there and run a bit fast. I wanted to push it and stay in control. It was good to get a PB and a win. After this the races become more tactical but it was a good confidence-booster. I was very fortunate that there was a pacer or it could have turned into a different race and perhaps a slow one.”

As for having a target on his back as an NCAA champ, he is realistic: “I think that comes with winning a title. That’s such a big thing, especially with the level of 1500 talent in the NCAA meet. But I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to inhibit me to run the way that I can and progress.” Hoare sees himself assuming a leadership role after McDonald graduates. “I’ve definitely not stepped away from that sort of responsibility and have tried to be there for the younger guys, so I would definitely embrace that after he’s gone.”

Hoare notes that his training has changed since arriving state-side. “Training in high school, with a bunch of different clubs or groups, was very intense and high volume,” he says, “where at Wisconsin under Mick [Byrne] it’s very personalized.”

He thinks of himself as a miler and looks forward to running a 5K and then cross next fall, noting that Byrne calls him his “utility guy.” But for now, let’s just call him the NCAA 1500 favorite. ◻︎