Oregon Relays gives Jantzer chance to stretch his legs

Elliott Jantzer isn't the type of runner whose main goal in competition is to send a message to his peers, but the Phoenix High junior may have done just that this past weekend in Eugene.

Racing against many of the state's elite distance runners — regardless of classification — Jantzer pulled off an impressive double with victories in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter events at Hayward Field in the Oregon Relays.

Jantzer's weekend began with a state-best time of 8 minutes, 37.60 seconds in the 3,000 on Friday, and concluded Saturday with another lifetime best effort by the Pirate in the 1,500 (4:00.25).

"He ran some incredible races against some really top-notch kids," said Phoenix coach Hans Voskes on Monday.

Not only was Jantzer's time in the 3,000 a lifetime best for the 5-foot-11, 142-pounder, it was also the second-fastest in school history. In looking back Monday, Jantzer said he had hoped to go under four minutes in the 1,500 but he wasn't letting that undermine his two-day accomplishment.

"It was definitely really exciting," he said of the Oregon Relays. "I'd been looking forward to it for a while. It was really good to get up there and to see what I could do against the rest of the state."

Voskes said the defending Class 4A state champion in both events was primed for a good weekend given the racing conditions. Jantzer is obviously already used to having success at Hayward Field, and is the type of runner who tends to rise to the occasion.

"He doesn't run against the clock, he basically runs against his competitors," said Voskes. "Knowing that it was going to be a very good field, it just set up perfect for him. That's the kind of runner he is. He's very confident and he loves to race. And he's so darn efficient when he does it, good things tend to happen for him."

Jantzer was given a considerable push in the 3,000 on Friday by Lincoln High junior Nathan Mathabane, who led most of the race until he was overtaken late in the race.

"The two of them were just running stride for stride for most of the race," said Voskes. "Elliott just had a little more punch in the end, but Mathabane is a tough kid."

Jantzer actually was spiked when he got caught up in a crowd midway through the race but paid the incident no mind as he tucked in behind Mathabane. The two had raced against one another only one other time in the 1,500 at the Icebreaker Collegiate High School Open at Linfield, so Jantzer said he didn't have much knowledge of what his foe would have left toward the end of Friday's 3,000.

"I know I have a strong kick, but I wasn't so sure with him because he's an accomplished 800 runner," said Jantzer, 17. "I figured we were keeping a pretty good pace and I sorta had the advantage there because it was more of my race."

After sizing up Mathabane for a while, Jantzer finally made his move and never looked back. Mathabane finished second in 8:39.31. Crater's Josh Elliott finished fifth (8:51.35) while older brother Zach was sixth (8:52.39). North Medford's Drew Jordan was eighth (9:00.66).

"There really wasn't any way I was going to let (Mathabane) outkick me on that one," Jantzer said of Friday's finish.

Saturday's race could have been more memorable, but Jantzer said he plans to use that as a learning experience for future races.

"We went out pretty fast and then when we settled in, I kinda zoned out and the second and third laps were a little slow and that sort of cost me," said Jantzer, who kicked it into high gear to run a 59-second final lap.

"For me it was disappointing because, if I can run the last lap that fast, why couldn't I have put more energy in the other laps and gone under four (minutes)?"

It's that type of self-evaluation and willingness to work in order to improve his times on the track that has impressed Voskes this season, and has served as a shining example for the other distance runners at Phoenix.

"A lot has to do with the fact that whenever we have a tough workout, he's chomping at the bit ready to go, and it's contagious," Voskes said. "It's contagious at a practice and at the meets."

Given his take on this past weekend, that eagerness to improve is as much of a priority as ever.

"I'm happy for where I'm at right now, but I definitely know that I'm going to get faster this year," he said. "This is just the beginning. In my opinion, I feel like I definitely have a lot more time to take off."


BEYOND THE RELAYS, Cascade Christian's Rachelle Buck also turned in a notable effort after qualifying to compete in the Meet of Champions at Willamette University on Saturday in Salem. The standout junior didn't post her top mark of the season, but was able to hang with her Class 4A-1A peers in the discus by placing fourth with a throw of 118 feet, 9 inches.

Astoria's Laura Bobek, who owns the state-best mark in the event, won with a throw of 137-7, while her 4A peers Jamie Coggins of Astoria (122-10) and Sharayah Kenady of Cascade (119-9) were the only others to top Buck.


NORTH MEDFORD'S ISSUES over the naming of its athletic fields apparently won't be addressed until, at best, this summer.

According to Doug Jantzi, athletic director for the Medford School District, the Medford School Board has indefinitely put off discussion on the naming of the baseball, softball and, potentially, basketball court at North Medford High. Jantzi said the board will most likely address all the naming issues at one time this summer.

At this point, though, the whole process is becoming a black-eye for the school and an irritant to those involved with the programs who merely wanted to honor tremendous individuals who gave so much to build up the Black Tornado tradition in baseball and softball in Jim McAbee and Larry Binney, respectively.

It shouldn't be too much to ask that egos and red-tape issues be put aside in order to take some time out and simply do the right thing by putting a stamp of approval on the field names.

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