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Greer shatters state record in 800m

The LO junior turns in the 4th fastest prep time in US history
by: File photo Vern Uyetake, 
Elijah Greer, who will be a senior at Lake Oswego High School next year, recently broke the national record for high school juniors in the 800m. The time also broke the state record by nearly a second.

With virtually every race, the ceiling on what Lake Oswego's Elijah Greer can accomplish in his running career keeps rising.

As a sophomore, Greer captured the state championship in the 1500m. He also established himself as one of the state's better cross-country runners and a force in the 800m.

Then, as a junior, Greer focused more on the 800 and turned in a lightning-fast time of 1:52.66 at a winter meet in Washington, which was the fastest time in the nation at that point.

During the high school season, Greer was solid, qualifying for state in the 800 and the 1500. He also was a key player in the team's talented 4x400 relay team.

Heading into state, Greer opted not to run the 1500 to optimize his chances of capturing a state title in the 800. And he didn't disappoint.

Greer pulled away on the final straightaway in the event, winning in a time of 1:50.6 and setting a new meet record in the process.

Still, Greer had his eye on bettering that time in the next month.

In the back of his mind he hoped to drop nearly two seconds from that time at the state meet to hit 1:48.5, the automatic qualifying mark for the upcoming Olympic trials.

'When I set goals at the beginning of the year I wanted to run 1:48.5 and I had been running relatively well,' Greer said.

Since the trials are held in Eugene this year, Greer knew it would be an incredible experience albeit somewhat of a long shot.

In his final race before the trial deadline, Greer set a PR but came up short of the time and then turned his focus to the junior national championships in Columbus, Ohio.

In the prelims, Greer ran a 1:50.1, setting him up well for the finals.

'I wanted to peak at junior nationals and hopefully hit 1:48,' Greer said.

Against some of the country's top competition, Greer's race day seemed to get off to an inauspicious start. The 800 was delayed for two hours due to a storm and Greer admitted that he wasn't feeling 100% ahead of time.

'I wasn't feeling the best in terms of energy so I didn't know what to expect in the final,' Greer said.

But it didn't show once the gun finally went off. Greer stayed with the lead pack and completed the first lap in 52.8 seconds, the fastest first lap he has ever run in the event.

Greer's strategy heading into the race was to make a move with about 300 meters to go and hopefully take the lead at the 200 meter mark.

Coming from a comfortable fifth place, Greer started to kick early into the second lap. And, just like he planned, he took the lead with roughly 200 meters left.

'I was confident that I could stay with the pack and I was really mentally prepared. When it came together everything just flowed,' Greer said.

Then, just like at the state meet, he found another gear on the final straightaway. Greer pulled away from his competition and crossed the finish line in first place.

He knew that the race had been fast but originally wasn't sure just how fast.

The time flashed 1:47.68, nearly two-and-half seconds faster than his preliminary time. The race earned Greer multiple accolades.

First, it earned him a spot on the U.S. junior world team. It was also well under the qualifying time for the Olympic trials even though it came after the deadline.

'This might be the better route to go actually. Now I get some more experience so it might be a blessing in disguise,' Greer said.

The time broke the national record for a high school junior and was the fourth fastest time ever recorded by a high schooler in the United States.

And the time shattered the Oregon state high school record, previously held by Michael McGrath by nearly an entire second.

Greer will continue to race over the summer including in an upcoming meet in Poland. He will look to add to his already impressive résumé in the coming year and, hopefully, continue to turn in eye-popping times.

'Getting back to that time isgoing to be a challenge in itself,' Greer said.