SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Eric Avila is no longer just the NAIA's best 1,500-meter runner. The recently-graduated Southern Oregon University star showed Saturday at Sacramento State's Hornets Stadium that he is one of the event's premier racers in the United States.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Eric Avila is no longer just the NAIA's best 1,500-meter runner. The recently-graduated Southern Oregon University star showed Saturday at Sacramento State's Hornets Stadium that he is one of the event's premier racers in the United States.

Avila ran a personal best of 3 minutes, 41.29 seconds Saturday at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships to place 10th in the 1,500-meter final. He qualified for the final with a time of 3:43.58 in Thursday's semifinals and was one of only two collegians in the 12-person field — the other being University of Kentucky's Matt Hillenbrand, who was 12th in 3:50.31.

Leo Manzano, representing Hoka One One, claimed the win in 3:38.63.

"Those guys are the best (mile runners) in the United States, so you have to bring your 'A' game to a race like this," Avila said. "The stadium was packed and the fans were roaring. Would have loved to have a little better performance today, but I can't complain too much."

With 150 meters to go, he was still well within reach of the leaders. But Avila, whose season began in February, was unable to out-kick the fresher legs of the professionals, whose season goes from May to August.

Still, this was his best 1,500 performance yet. He supplanted his previous PR of 3:42.18, which was set at the Oregon Relays in April. His winning time at the NAIA Outdoor Championships on May 24 was 3:48.93.

"It's been a memorable season," Avila said, "and this is definitely icing on the cake. Great experience today."