Mt. Vernon alum Christian Noble competes in Olympic Trials


Mt. Vernon alum Christian Noble clears a barrier in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Dan Vernon Photo

Mt. Vernon alum Christian Noble has run on plenty of big stages. The IHSAA State Finals, NCAA Championships, national level meets, you name it and Noble’s been there.

None of those stages were bigger than the one he ran on two Fridays ago.

For the first time in his career, Noble competed in the men’s U.S. Olympic Trials hoping to secure a spot representing the United States in the upcoming Paris Olympics. The event took place at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.

“It was sick to just sit in the hotel lobby and constantly see everyone that was competing just coming and going,” Noble said. “It’s the Olympic trials, it’s just a really cool experience.”

Noble, who graduated from Mt. Vernon in 2016, placed 29th out of 29 competitors in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:00.53. Kenneth Rooks won the event — which also serves as the USA Championships — with a time of 8:21.92.

The finish was Noble’s second-worst time this year, and over 30 seconds behind his top time of 8:27.75 back in March at the Raleigh Relays.

He said part of the reason for his rough race was due to a high pollen count in Oregon, and a mistiming of his training schedule.

The ramp-up to the trials involved Noble training in Flagstaff, Arizona with some teammates from his professional team, New Balance Boston, during the months of April and May. He competed in a few events during that time, along with the training, before heading back to his home in Boston leading up to the trials.

“It was some of my worst running. My allergies were pretty bad leading up to everything, and we didn’t really time my last day of training up well with the trials,” Noble said. “It was just a mix of things. The training and everything is the same as any other year, there’s just a lot more stress and different stressors when you know it’s the Olympic trials.”

While not up to Noble’s standards, just qualifying for the event was an accomplishment in itself. To qualify, runners must meet an automatic qualifying standard time of 8:30.00.

Noble did that twice.

Along with his time at the Raleigh Relays — his first time competing in the steeplechase in three years — he ran an 8:28.29 at the Los Angeles Grand Prix in May. He placed second at the Raleigh Relays and 11th in Los Angeles.

In 2021, he missed qualifying for the trials by just a few spots with a time of 8:35.73.

“They take the automatic qualifiers and then go back in times from there to fill out the field,” Noble said. “The competition level and those times just really rise in an Olympic year.”

Not only was this year Noble’s first time qualifying for the trials, it was a return to the steeplechase, an event he ran during his collegiate years at Lee University.

In 2017, Noble won the race at the Gulf South Conference Championships and placed seventh in the event at the NCAA Division II Championships, and in 2019 he won the conference again and placed fifth at the NCAA Championships. In 2021 he won the conference for a third time, but a bad fall and a DNF in the event at the NCAAs turned him away from the race going forward.

That was until this year.

“After that, I said I was done with the event, but I switched back to it because I thought the field was a little more wide open this year than it was in the other events,” Noble said. “Going back to it was exciting and a lot of fun.”

At Lee, Noble also competed in the 3000 and 5000-meter runs, winning indoor National Championships in both during the 2021 season. In 2022, he won another indoor National Championship as a member of the distance medley relay team. Since turning pro, his primary event had been the 1500-meter run until this season.

Now, after the way things have been going, and with the experience of an Olympic trials under his belt, he’s fully back in on the steeplechase as he continues forward with the 2024 season.

“It was great to qualify and there’s a lot that I can take away and learn from the experience. I’ve got a good training partner and I think we’ve learned some things to train stronger next year and going forward. I’ll be competing all fall, so I’m excited to get back at it and move forward.”