CLOVIS, Calif. -
Jantzen Oshier had just finished running the fastest 1,600-meter time of the season nationally and was still breathing hard when came the inevitable question.s
"Since you got so close, don't you wish you'd broken 4-minutes?" the 6-foot-3 runner from Trabuco Hills (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
was asked. Oshier was unruffled, just as he was during the California State Track Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis where he roared to a time of 4-minutes, 00.83-seconds.
He smiled and calmly explained why he was more than a little pleased with the time which is second in state meet history only to the 4:00.29 run by German Fernandez of Riverbank (Riverbank, Calif.) in 2008.
"I started the year thinking I'd be happy if I ran a 4:07," said the University of California-bound senior. "I had to quickly change that to 4:05. I'm not worried about running 4:00 today, but I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow."
Oshier really doesn't worry a lot about times and that was the last thing on his mind when he toed the starting line against runners like defending state champ Elias Gedyon of Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)
and Matt Carpowich of Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.)
When Oshier wasn't leading to make sure the pace was fast and to take a little of the sting out of Gedyon's torrid kick that came within a hundredth of a second of beating him the week earlier in the Southern Section finals, he stayed in the group of four which included Dana Hills' (Dana Point, Calif.) Connor Kaddatz early and Luis Gutierez of Rancho Cucamonga (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) later.
With 500 meters remaining, Oshier floored it and led heading into the final 400 after covering the first 1,200 in 3:03.4, bringing the rain-soaked crowd of 7,115 to its feet in anticipation of a blazing finish.
It was not disappointed.
Oshier knew Gedyon would make a charge but really had no idea how far behind he was and sure enough, the Stanford-bound Loyola runner closed the gap heading into the final straightaway.
But the fast pace did exactly what Oshier had hoped it would and when it comes to powerful runners over the final 100, there are few stronger than Oshier who just couple years ago was running on the 4x400 relay team and not at all at the end of last year after spraining an ankle.
Oshier had one more charge, Gedyon did not and as he had done on so many occasions, he wowed the crowd with his time, covering the final 400 in 57.4 seconds.
As for the 4-minute barrier, his mind now turns to a different race with a legendary history as he attempts to dip under in the Dream Mile in New York this coming weekend. He is only too familiar with that race's history.
"I know only four have ever done that (break 4:00) and I'd like to be No. 5," said the 18-year-old Oshier matter-of-factly, without a trace of bravado. "I'm ready—no, more than ready. I'd rather run 3:58 or 3:59 and finish sixth than not break 4-minutes and win.
"But whatever happens, just as it has all year, I'll be happy. When I was young, my dad told me to always run with love in your heart, in other words, be grateful for whatever happens and I've always done that."
Oshier says he has never worries about his time or even his place at the finish as long as he gives his all, especially in the state championships.
"My attitude is to just go for it," he says. "I pray a lot and this is something I've wanted it my whole life. I knew to win I had to break Elias Gedyon's kick because he's an amazing runner — it really is an honor to win."
Gedyon not only finished second in a season-best 4:04.04, he came back later to capture the 3,200-meter run with that patented kick in 8:50.03 — leading 13 runners under 9-minutes, a state record in sheer volume.
Gutierez edged past Carpowich in 4:06.51 to 4:07.21 for third in the 1,600.
"This has been such a great journey," said Oshier, "I can't wait to tell everyone at Trabuco Hills. It's so incredible. That strategy of just going for it and not worrying about first or last can sometimes be a problem, though."
Feeling good and wanting to make a big impression at the Orange County Championships, he took it out hard and made a scary discovery. With 100 meters to go, he was out of gas, the tank was dry.
"The last 100, I had nothing left," he recalls, shaking his head as he staggered across the line in first. "It was awful."
It was also a learning experience so that in the final 100 yards last night, it was the opponents who were on fumes, helplessly watching Oshier pull away for the victory.