Prep track: State medals fuel runner Eli Oftedal's passion to train harder

Prep track • Emily Sundquist added two state titles on the girls' side.
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It wasn't the time that Eli Oftedal wanted, but it is the one the Rowland Hall sophomore would take.

The 800-meter specialist for the Winged Lions secured the Class 2A state championship last Saturday, but the time he ran at the BYU Invitational was the standard he was trying to best.

Best by a hundredth of a second.

"I felt like I ran well and expected to do well," Oftedal said. "I was just hoping to get that state record."

Oftedal finished at 1 minute, 57.25 seconds for his first state title in the 800 and secured a second title in the 1,600 by crossing the line in 4:29.83.

His father and coach, Mark, has been a lifelong runner, and Eli is following in his footsteps. Eli, who began his running career when he was 10, has been upping his mileage and working on his form to lower his times. The 20 miles a week he trains are broken into small chunks, which he charges through. The philosophy is simple — low mileage at breakneck speeds.

"It helped prepare me for state," Eli said. "I'm looking forward to this summer to really up the mileage."

Teammate Emily Sundquist also earned top honors. She destroyed the 3,200 field with a time of 11:40.37, beating the second-place finisher by more than 10 seconds. She also won the 1,600 (5:17.17).

"She is completely committed to the sport," coach Oftedal said. "She is very coachable, listened to tactical advice and constantly asked what she can do to improve."

With aspirations to run at the college level, Sundquist practices the low-mileage, high-speed approach. It has given her a confidence that allows her to outkick opponents and run the race that she has planned.

"Even though she maintains a pretty humble approach, Emily always knows what she needs to do to succeed," coach Oftedal said. "She is able to keep her composure and seems to be able to run her own race."