Greer has states best times in 800, 1500-meter races

by: Vern Uyetake, The track season didn’t end with the state meet for Lake Oswego’s Elijah Greer, foreground. After running a state-best time while winning the 1,500 at the state meet, Greer then clocked a state-best time in the 800 while competing last weekend at Prefontaine preliminary meet.

Lake Oswego's Elijah Greer is already looking forward to his junior year of high school. But it will be hard to top what he did this year as a sophomore.

After winning a state title in the 1,500-meter run last month, Greer turned his attention to the 800 for a pair of post-season races and his performances were nothing short of brilliant.

Two weeks ago, in the Brooks Meet of Champions, which pits the top competitors from Oregon and Washington, Greer registered a winning 800 time of 1:52.44. That mark was two-tenths of a second faster than the winning 800 time at the state meet the week before. At the time, it also gave Greer the second-fastest 800 time ever for an Oregon sophomore.

But that was just a prelude of things to come. At the Prefontaine preliminary meet last Saturday, Greer recorded an eighth-place finish against a blazing fast field. In the process, the Lake Oswego star recorded a time of 1:51.49.

That represented the fastest high school 800 in Oregon this year and it also set the all-time state record for sophomores. Greer attributes the faster time to improved competition.

'I felt I could have run faster (at the Brooks meet) if someone had been right next to me,' said Greer, who was able to break away from the pack with about 200 meters to go.

But at the Prefontaine meet in Eugene, 'with runners that were better than me, it made me run faster,' he said.

Greer admitted that he was somewhat intimidated before the Prefontaine race, where the field included several college runners. But the sophomore phenom handled just about every challenge that was presented to him this year.

The only feat that he didn't attempt was a chance to win two gold medals at the state high school meet. Coming into that meet, he had the top qualifying time in the 800 and one of the best times in the 1,500. But, running in both events at state would have been draining to say the least. After consulting with his coaches, Greer decided to skip the 800 and make the 1,500 his main event at state.

'I'd like to think if I could have run the 800 that I could have won that race, too,' he said. 'But I think I had a better shot in the 1,500.'

It turned out to be the right choice as Greer had plenty of energy to pull off an early finishing kick that allowed him to edge Lincoln's Nathan Mathabane at the end. His winning time of 3:57.76 stands as the best mark in the state this season.

Now, Greer is the best in Oregon in two events, and one has to wonder how much lower his marks can go. He has some times in mind but he's worried about sharing those goals.

'I have a (1,500) time in mind,' he said. 'But if I don't get it, I don't want people to judge me.'

Coming into the season, Greer's goals were to finish in the top five in whatever event he qualified for at state, and to break the four-minute barrier in the 1,500.

So, this year, 'was more than I expected,' he said.

Greer gives Lake Oswego head coach Eric Lider and distance coach Bob Williams a lot credit for his success this year. Plus, it helped that Greer never pushed his training past a level that his body could stand.

'I never forced myself to work out when I didn't feel good,' he said. 'You don't necessarily want to take it to the edge all of the time.'

Next year could be a banner season for Greer, but he doesn't want to put too much pressure on himself. His goals are to repeat his district titles in the 800 and the 1,500, 'and just have good races (during the season),' he said.

As for this season:

'It's definitely very rewarding when you set goals, then achieve them and go a step beyond that,' Greer said.