The most recent development in Elliott Jantzer's magnificent running career would suggest he has no one left to impress, nothing else to prove.

The most recent development in Elliott Jantzer's magnificent running career would suggest he has no one left to impress, nothing else to prove.

The Phoenix High senior gave a verbal commitment to Oregon to join its heralded cross country and track and field programs two weeks ago.

That, taken with the five individual state championships he already owns and his resume heading into Saturday's cross country state meet at Lane Community College in Eugene — he's easily the top returner at any level from 2007 — and, well, it seems there's precious little motivation.

Of course, that presumption is supremely flawed.

Jantzer, the reigning champion in the Class 4A boys 5,000-meter event, considers himself a forgotten man and is out to reassert himself in that race and beyond.

"Really, the thing I'd like to prove is that I'm still here," says Jantzer, who has run a series of difficult courses this season and doesn't have a time commensurate with the state's other leading runners. "This year, if you just look at my times, they aren't where they were last year. I haven't really had a breakout race.

"Other kids looking at my times probably think they should really challenge me. I'm out to prove that, no, Elliott Jantzer didn't fall off the map. I'm still here and I'm still running fast and they'll have to put out everything they've got to beat me."

In essence, his season is just beginning.

Jantzer's training, says Phoenix co-head coach John Cornett, has been designed so he'll peak for regional and national meets in the weeks following the state meet.

That's not to say they aren't taking the Oregon championships seriously.

"He's in the best shape of his life, fitness-wise, and the times don't really reflect that," says Cornett.

To get there, the training focus has been on lots of miles and limited speed work. Only this week did Jantzer add sprinting to his regimen as he begins to taper.

Jantzer's season-best time for 5,000 meters is 15 minutes, 45.85 seconds in the Nike Pre-Nationals in Portland. It's the only race he's approached competitively that he hasn't won, and the four placers ahead of him were from outside Oregon.

Yet, with that as his best time, opponents could get a false sense of security.

One need only look at the returners from last year's state meet to get an idea of where the Pirate star stands. His time in 2007 of 15:35 was a personal best (he bettered it by two seconds a week later), and no other returners broke 16 minutes.

Further indication that he's still a force came in the Skyline Conference district meet last week. Connor Kasler of Hidden Valley tops the state 4A list with a 15:35.9 mark, 10 seconds better than second-place Jantzer.

But at district, Jantzer went out fast, then backed off and rode Kasler's shoulder through the first kilometer, a way of pushing the pace and of getting a read on Kasler's fitness level, says Cornett.

Eventually, Jantzer pulled away and won by 34 seconds with a 16:16 clocking. Kasler was third in 16:53.

"It actually was a very cerebral race," says the Phoenix coach.

Jantzer doesn't have a plan for the state meet. The weather, the pace, how he feels, all will play a part in how he proceeds.

"Really, it's my last high school cross country meet and I'm definitely excited for it," says Jantzer. "I just want to go out with a good season. I'll just see what I can do and try to pull it off."

Fittingly, he'll do so in the town in which he'll spend the next few years as a runner for the Ducks.

A few other schools persistently recruited Jantzer: Columbia, Boise State, Arizona State. But his heart was with Oregon.

He visited the school the weekend of Oct. 4, then told the school's coaches the following week he'd join them.

"It was really just Oregon," he says, noting he's long been a fan of Oregon running. "I always wanted to go there, it was just a matter of, how much did they want me? I was just waiting to hear them say, 'We'd like you to come here.'"

Jantzer, who doubled up the past two springs and claimed state 1,500- and 3,000-meter crowns in track, will join former Crater standout Isaac Stoutenburgh, who is a redshirt sophomore competing for the Ducks.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com