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Jantzer earns 4A title to pace local boys

EUGENE — Elliot Jantzer glanced quickly over his shoulder, turned back toward the finish line, put on a powerful kick and won the race.

Moments later, walking into the runners' tent, he looked back again, saw that his nemesis still wasn't close to him, then pumped a fist and growled "Yes!"

There was no mistaking how important this race was to the Phoenix junior.

"I was not happy he beat me last year," said Jantzer, who on Saturday gained revenge over North Bend's Spenser Lynass and claimed the Class 4A boys title at the state cross country championships. "I told myself I'm not going to let it happen again."

And he meant it.

Jantzer, who last year was overtaken in the final 300 meters and finished third to runner-up Lynass, posted the best time in the championship races Saturday at Lane Community College. He was timed in 15 minutes, 35 seconds over 5,000 meters, a season's best by four seconds, and ended a string of tight battles with Lynass, trumping the senior by nine seconds.

Lynass clipped Jantzer by three seconds last year and again by little more than a second in a meet this year. Last spring, it was Jantzer with the upper hand in track, winning state 1,500- and 3,000-meter crowns.

Asked if they are rivals, Jantzer nodded, "I'd say we are."

There was blood to prove it. Jantzer sported a nick on a knee and a trail of blood. Lynass had cut him off several times, he said, and the wound occurred on one such occasion.

In other races, Josh Paul of North Medford ran a strong race in taking third in the Class 6A meet, helping the Black Tornado to fifth place; and Ashland's Matt Miner placed second in 5A as the Grizzlies brought home third place.

Jantzer and Lynass took the lead early and ran by themselves most of the race.

As they came to a hill at the school stadium for the second time, Jantzer realized Lynass was laboring a bit through two miles. Another quarter-mile later, the Phoenix flash found another hill at the soccer bowl and moved out, opening a 20-meter gap.

"I knew he'd put a move on in the last mile and try to break me," said Lynass. "He timed it perfectly."

When they got to the track and the final 300 meters, Lynass appeared to gain ground, but Jantzer put a stop to that with a big kick. He had worked on finishing since last fall, and his kick is now a weapon.

"I said, 'OK, it's all-out now,' and I dropped it into another gear," said Jantzer. "This is state. This is the time to kill yourself."

Phoenix co-head coach Bruce Timmerman wasn't surprised by the strong finish.

"He's worked really hard all season," said Timmerman. "He doesn't spare himself any pain. He pushes himself every chance he gets, so it wasn't out of character for him to be able to handle that pace and still have a kick at the end."

Jantzer is the Pirates' fourth state champion, following Nathan May in 2002, John Dawson in 1972 and Leonard Hill in 1969.

Paul, a senior, finished strong down the stretch as well for North Medford and clocked 15:54. Franklin's Bryce Burgess won in 15:44, followed by Central Catholic's Taylor Morgan in 15:49.

North Medford scored 156 teams points, nine out of third place. Central Catholic won the 6A with 32.

The senior Miner picked off three runners once he reached the track and placed second in 5A with a time of 16:00. Jared Bassett triumphed in 15:51, becoming Marshfield's first individual champion since legendary runner Steve Prefontaine 40 years earlier.

Ashland scored 77 points, behind Crater's 52 and Hermiston's 54.

Sophomore Wilder Schaaf of the Grizzlies placed seventh in 16:22.

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

Phoenix’s Elliot Jantzer, left, begins to pull ahead of North Bend’s Spenser Lynass heading through the second mile of the 5,000-meter course.