Cooper Teare just wanted to run fast. That was the goal when the St. Joseph Notre Dame star distance runner lined up for what turned out to be an all-time classic race, not just for Teare but nearly the entire field.
When the University of Oregon-bound Teare crossed the finish line first last weekend, he had broken an Arcadia Invitational record in the boys 3,200 that stood since the Gerald Ford administration, winning the eight-lap race in an astounding 8 minutes, 41.46 seconds.
Eight others also needed less than 8:50 to finish, and 25 of the 33 participants from 15 states came in under nine minutes.
“I led at least half of it,” Teare said a few days later. “There were a couple of guys who had some lead changes. We really worked together to get through the first six laps pretty quick and then after that it was pretty much every man for himself trying to see who could take home the win.”
Teare grabbed the lead for good at roughly the 7:30 mark and, well, here is how the race announcer described it, his voice rising with each stride:
“He’s got more …
“One more gear for Cooper Teare.”
Teare roared around the final lap to eclipse the meet record time of 8:42.30 that Thom Hunt of Patrick Henry-San Diego set in 1976. Teare’s time also broke the North Coast Section record of 8:43.5 that Richard Kimball of De La Salle established in 1974.
Only three other California high school runners have covered the distance faster. Ever.
“We had talked about making sure the race was fast from the start,” said Alex Mason, who coaches SJND’s distance runners. “I know last year the race went out slow. When you have (many) people in a race, if it’s slow, they’re all going to be bunched together, maybe pushed around.
“The goal was to go out fast. I knew and he knew he could handle taking the lead because he does it all the time at practice, and he’s done it in other races. He knows how to pace himself. He’s friends with a lot of these guys, so he had talked to a couple of them to help out with the pace. Obviously, he didn’t want to lead the whole thing. He was comfortable leading majority of it.”
Last year, Teare took sixth at Arcadia in 8:54.14. He went on to win the state championship in 8:51.85, more than 10 seconds slower than the race last weekend.
The grandson of a former Michigan state mile champion, Teare arrived at SJND four years ago small and slender, maybe 5 feet, 2 inches, Mason recalled.
But the future looked promising.
“We knew from the start that he had talent,” Mason said. “I remember his last race as a freshman, I think he ran 9:45. One of the kids on our team was like, ‘He is going to break nine in a couple of years.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’”
Now 6-2, Teare followed up his win in the 3,200 at last year’s state championships with a second consecutive state Division V cross country title last fall.
His 3,200 time at Arcadia is the best in the nation this season.
He will spend the rest of this month training and preparing to run the mile at the Mt. Sac Relays and the Sacramento Meet of Champions, with a goal to go under four minutes.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Teare said. “I think I have a pacer. That will take me through a pretty quick 800 and see how it goes from there. I definitely want to go for it.”
After that, he’ll set his sights on the 3,200 and winning another state crown to end what has been a storied high school career.
The Bay Area also had winners in the invitational boys and girls 800 races at Arcadia.
California junior Alyssa Brewer posted the No. 1 time in the state this season, winning in 2:07.90. The mark is second-best in the nation this year and fifth all-time at Arcadia.
Bellarmine College Prep junior Alex Scales won the boys 800 in 1:50.64, which is No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the nation this season. It also was 10th all-time at Arcadia and just off the Central Coast Section record of 1:50.10 that Los Altos’ Rick Brown set in 1970.
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