PALO ALTO, Calif. – On a warm night Portland State’s Jeremy Park toed the line with some college’s most finely tuned 1500 meter runners on Friday, May 4. As the Stanford University stadium lights shined off the runners’ shoulders through three and a half laps, the bell for the final lap rang. That’s when it happened.
Park surprised himself as he kicked down the homestretch en route to blistering 3 minutes, 45.89 seconds – the fastest 1500 time in Vikings history. His time edged out Dave Henderson’s PSU record of 3:46.9, set in 1984 and matched in 1995 by Mike Mahoney.
“He could have gone faster,” said men’s coach Ken Woodard after the race. “There was a little bit over the last 250 that he couldn’t really get going. If he could of he would have gone a second and a half faster.
“He’s been having a good year. He couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was a great race under the lights,” Woodard added.
The modest Park said it’s a little overwhelming to know he’s the fastest PSU 1500 runner ever.
“It feels real good,” Park said about being the fastest miler in Vikings history. “I think it’s coming along really well this season because it’s the way I was training this season. My training has progressed.”
Park’s time is also the second-fastest in the Big Sky Conference this year and he was only 0.89 seconds off the NCAA provisional mark.
“The next time I run it, it won’t be until conference and I don’t know who the racers will be,” Park said. “Sometimes they tend to go out a little slow, but if it turns out we go fast I think I can run 3:41. Last year, I was getting kind of bored of training and not racing. But you come back and realize how much fun racing is.”
Park ran the third heat and finished 18th place overall and was 11th among NCAA Division I runners. Colorado State runner and Oregon native Bryan Berryhill won the event in 3:37.23. The runner up was Donald Sage of Stanford in 3:39:99.
“I wasn’t really nervous, it was pretty exciting,” Park said of the competition after the race. “The thing that made it the best is that right before my race they had a world-class 10,000 meter race. It ended up being the fastest 10,000 to ever be run on American soil. They broke the Asian and Canadian records too.”And the 2004 Olympics is a possibility as well for the 21-year-old, “Yeah, I definitely want to get to the Olympic trials.”
Considering that the 1992 Olympic 1500 run in Barcelona, Spain was won by Spaniard Fermin Cacho in 3:41, Park said he’ll keep that goal.
Park was the only Viking to compete in the Cardinal Invitational. This week the Vikings will travel to Washington for the Seattle Pacific Invite on Saturday.