Welcome to the Flock

Updated: Jan 13

Graphic by John Cusick

Noah Affolder is taking his talents from Syracuse to Oregon.

We caught up with the recent transfer and was able to ask him a few questions.

Many thanks to Noah for taking the time to chat with us!

The Stride Report: Let’s kick-off this Q&A by talking about your recent transfer from Syracuse to Oregon. When did you first realize that you wanted to explore new opportunities at a different program? Were there any specific instances or set of circumstances that made you want to pursue the transfer?

Noah Affolder: The second semester of my sophomore year was when I first started to realize that maybe it was time for me to move on from Syracuse. As a military child who is accustomed to moving every couple of years, my family often asks God to place us where he wants us and so in the transferring process I prayed that he would plant me where he wanted me to be and not let my personal desires make the decision. I think there were just a lot of little things that piled up and at the end of the day I wasn’t happy. I started to lose the desire to run when I was at Syracuse and I really poured my time and energy into what made me happy there and that was golf. Playing golf for the last few months at Syracuse helped pass the time and allowed me to be competitive while I wasn’t racing. I knew at some point that I would have to find that passion for running again, but just somewhere else.

TSR: There were plenty of rumors suggesting that you would look into running for the University of Washington given their recent success in the steeplechase, their notable improvement in cross country, and the recent addition of your brother (Sam Affolder) to their roster. Was Washington ever a possibility for you?

Noah: Washington was definitely a possibility for me. They were the first program I reached out to. However, I just couldn't see myself there for any other reason than to be with Sam. I didn't want that to be my sole reason for being there.

TSR: Were there any programs others than Oregon and Washington that you were looking at? What made you choose Oregon over everyone else?

Noah: Yeah I looked at a bunch of schools and narrowed my visits down to three: Florida, Liberty, and Oregon. I was interested in all of them for different reasons. I chose Oregon because I felt that God was calling me to be a disciple at that institution.

TSR: As of late, the Ducks haven't necessarily been known for their success in the steeplechase (although they recently had Jackson Mestler run 8:44 this past spring). As someone who is one of the better steeplechasers in the country, did that lack of history have an impact on your transfer decision at all?

Noah: Not really. I saw Jackson do some hurdle stuff alone on my visit and I thought it would be cool if we could train together, but it wasn’t something that made the decision.

TSR: What are the expectations for the Oregon Ducks this fall? What should we expect to see from this group come October and November?

Noah: As a transfer, I don’t want to speak on behalf of the team or coach, but I would say overall we are striving for excellence in everything that we do.

TSR: What are your thoughts about now running in what is arguably the most competitive conference in the NCAA for collegiate distance running (the PAC-12)? Who do you see as your biggest competition in the PAC-12 when it comes to cross country and the steeplechase?

Noah: I am super excited to be competing in the PAC-12. There are a number of schools in the conference that I feel could win cross country this year and you never know who is going to show up for steeplechase, so we will see. Looking forward to competing against my brother.

TSR: As a true freshman, you ran 8:40 in the steeplechase and finished one spot out from First Team All-American at the 2018 Outdoor National Championships. How much faster do you think you can go? What do you want to accomplish by the time you leave the NCAA?

Noah: I am not sure how much faster I can go. I will be happy with whatever God has in store for me. I would love to be at the trials next summer and at the world championships in 2021, but I will cross that bridge when the time comes.

TSR: As someone who has raced at Nationals before (in Eugene) what were your thoughts on the national meet being held in Austin, Texas this year? Was this a good decision or a bad decision?

Noah: I enjoyed watching the meet being held there. I loved seeing records broken in the shorter events and the tactics in the longer events. Not sure if my opinion would be different if I was competing this year. As a Duck, I am excited for it to come back to Eugene in 2021.

TSR: There was a recent proposal made to move the racing distance of the cross country national meet down from 10,000 meters to 8,000 meters. What are your thoughts on that potential change? How would this change impact your performances and Oregon’s performances?

Noah: As for me, I don’t think it would change my performance or the team’s. My results may say otherwise, but I had some health issues that required surgery a couple weeks prior to NCAA’s last fall that didn’t allow me to show my true fitness. I would personally love the racing distance to be changed. I think it bring more fans to the sport. Unless you are a coach or former athlete, I don’t think spectators care to watch that long of a race. Now some may argue that there is so much history with the event being held over 10,000 meters, but if they end up changing it soon then it won’t matter five years now. I personally got bored watching the 10k on the track in Austin and even got bored watching the middle part of the 5k (and I love track and field). I understand a lot of people may disagree with me, but I don’t think there should be a track event over 3,000 meters. It is just too boring for the average spectator… leave the longer stuff for the roads.