Oregon has always been known for producing talented distance runners and one Lake Oswego resident is looking to continue that tradition.
Elijah Greer, who will be a sophomore at Lake Oswego High School this fall, recently qualified for the National Junior Olympics for the second year in a row. Greer, who runs on both the cross-country and track teams at the high school finished third in the 800 meters and second in the 1,500 at the regional Junior Olympics in Salem two weeks ago.
The top three finishers in each event qualify for nationals, which will be held in Baltimore, Md. this year from July 25-30.
In the 800, Greer used a strong kick to narrowly slip into third place by less than half a second. But Greer's premiere event is the 1,500 and he is currently seeded second in the nation in his age group heading into nationals. The only runner in the country ranked ahead of him is the athlete who nipped him at regionals.
In Salem, Greer finished the 1,500 with a personal best time of 4:08 and he points out that, if the times are similar at nationals, as they were last year in Indianapolis, he should be able to qualify for the finals.
'It's different (at nationals). There are a lot of kids running right next to you. You have to run smart and pace yourself,' Greer said.
At nationals in 2005, Greer finished in 13th place with the top 12 competitors earning a berth in the finals.
Greer has been running for a number of years but only started to seriously train for his best events heading into his eighth grade year. During his freshman campaign, he endured injuries, which hampered both the cross country and track seasons, but he is looking forward to helping out both teams this year.
'I'm probably better at track but I think I enjoy cross country a little more,' Greer said.
The incoming sophomore currently trains with Julius Achon, an Olympian distance runner with the Nike Project.
With Achon, Greer generally concentrates on doing a variety of stretches to loosen up his legs.
'In a two-hour workout I sometimes only do about 30 minutes of running. Julius is really good at correcting you when you're doing exercises wrong. He's really knowledgeable,' Greer said.
Although he has already established himself as one of the top high school distance and middle-distance runners in the state, Greer hesitates to set too many long-term aspirations for himself.
'I just want to work my hardest. I'm not sure what will happen (in the next few year). In running, a lot depends on if you keep getting P.R.'s so I really don't have too many specific goals,' Greer said.
Instead, he will simply try to improve his times throughout his high school career and see where his running will take him.