Noah and Nicole Contreras’ track and field dominance is years in the making

Photo courtesy of CSUN Athletic Communications.

Charlie Gonzalez, Sports Writer

It’s not too often you see two siblings from the same school dominate in the same sport, let alone the same tournament.

Noah Contreras and his younger sister Nicole are both track and field athletes at CSUN. At UCLA’s Bob Larsen Distance Carnival on March 24, Noah beat his 1500-meter record by two seconds, finishing 11th with a time of 3 minutes, 51.12 seconds. Nicole ran the fourth fastest 5000-meter by a CSUN freshman, 17:29.99, finishing ninth out of the 21 competitors.

“I was nervous since it was my first 5000-meter race,” Nicole said. “But I knew it was going to be a great race, and was happy with my time knowing how fast the other girls were. I was still motivated to continue improving.”

Noah had the jitters too, “I was a little nervous because I was racing some of the best people in the country, but despite that, I was prepared and knew I belonged there,” he said. Although he set a new personal best, he was left dissatisfied with the 11th-place finish and wished he had placed higher.

Their parents have greatly influenced their athletic journeys throughout their lives.

“Our mother runs, and our father has always done crossfit,” Nicole said. “We come from a very active family, and we like to do activities together such as hiking, which influenced us into playing sports at a young age. Growing up, Noah and I participated in martial arts at the gym our father worked at.”

Nicole decided to change her primary sport in high school, “I played soccer through elementary school, middle school and up until my senior year of high school,” she said. “Once I started college, my sole focus was on running.”

Like his younger sister, Noah’s primary sport until high school was soccer, “I was on my high school soccer team, but going into college I had to choose between the two,” he said. “Although I truly loved soccer, the determining factor was I felt I had more success in running.”

For Noah, running began back in middle school. Going into high school, running transitioned from being a fun activity to a passion for him.

“At first it was just something I’d do for fun,” he said. “They’d have us run around the campus once a week. I’d always place in the top five against some of my friends who were also pretty fast.”

Like many others, Noah made the decision to attend CSUN because of proximity. After he enrolled, the track and field team moved within his reach.

“Coming out of high school, I knew I wanted to stay close to home, but also be able to run at the collegiate level,” he said. “I was confident I had the times for the next level, so I began looking at nearby schools such as CSUN, Cal State LA, and Cal State Long Beach. The deciding factor was CSUN had the most impacted major that I wanted to study, which is kinesiology. The people I spoke to told me it had the best program involving sports medicine.”

Noah is a senior, but will graduate in 2024. Nicole is an academic sophomore, but is labeled a freshman by CSUN Athletics as she redshirted last season.

Noah’s true freshman year was during the pandemic, when CSUN Athletics temporarily suspended operations. When the program made a return, he was a walk-on recruit.

“I asked to join the team, and the new coach [Devin Elizondo] joined at the same time,” he said. “The only unfortunate thing was I didn’t receive a scholarship right off the bat. I had to earn that later on.”

Looking back, Noah has no regrets after seeing how things unfolded.

Nicole began her college journey at UCLA, but didn’t intend to run track and field.

“After one year at UCLA, I realized it wasn’t the right school for me,” she said. “After I began training on my own, I wanted to run again. Running at UCLA wasn’t an option. While I was searching for schools to transfer to, CSUN actually reached out to me and offered a spot on the team.”

Coincidentally, Elizondo, whom she hoped to have at UCLA where he previously worked, became her distance coach at CSUN. Keeping the same major, shortening the commute and being around her friends and brother made the decision much easier.

An ecology and evolutionary biology major, Nicole hopes her career will involve field research, but she doesn’t necessarily want to leave track behind.

“After my collegiate career is over, I still want to run,” she said. “Whether it’s for a competitive club or wherever else it takes me, I definitely don’t want to stop.”

Noah sees running as more of a lifestyle than a career after college, but won’t rule out making it more than that.

“I do feel like running is always going to be a lifestyle, something to do to stay in shape,” he said. “But knowing I have one more year after this, it’s made me realize it’s something that could happen. I’m weighing my options right now and going with the flow day by day.”

On the academic side, Noah is majoring in kinesiology and minoring in business marketing and entrepreneurship. He hopes that if he can’t continue running after graduation, he can participate in the program another way.

“One day, I would like to be the head coach of a division one program, whether it’s at CSUN, UCLA, or a school like that,” Noah said.