John Lester Drops The Third-Fastest Junior 800m Ever


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Amador Valley High School junior John Lester won the fastest heat of the 800m at the Desert Dream Last Hurrah Invitational on Saturday in San Tan Valley, Arizona, in a new PR, sizzling to the third-best junior 800m performance ever in 1:48.26, just ahead of hard-charging Cruz Culpepper of Niwot (CA), who ran 1:48.50.

Lester's time now puts him among the all-time greats in the two-lap event.

But it didn't come out of nowhere. 

Lester this spring ran a 1:52.06 winning effort on his home track at the Dan Gabor Invitational on March 7. Then later in April in a time trial he put down an incredible 1:49.36. He also was part of the field at the Quarantine Clasico as he rolled to a 4:08.90 mile best. 

Lester was a last-minute addition to tonight's meet which included University of Washington bound Culpepper as well as Darius Kipyego (Pawtucket, RI) who had run 1:52.55 indoors in December. Culpepper and Kipyego were also last-minute entries which turned the 800m into must-watch live on MileSplit.

We noted the Dan Gabor Invitational above, which is named after the now-former Amador Valley HS 800m record holder. Gabor was tragically killed in an airplane crash on July 17, 1997 along with 229 other passengers. He won the California State Meet in his specialty in 1987. Gabor's high school coach,  Mike Walsh, was also in attendance at the Desert Dream meet with his current athletes at Bishop Union HS. Although Lester did surpass Gabor's former record of 1:50.71 in the earlier time trial, tonight's effort was in an official meet and I am sure quite a thrill for both current and former Amador Valley coaches.

All-Time Junior List (Nationally)
1) 1:47.68 Elijah Greer Lake Oswego, Or 2008
2) 1:47.96 Michael Granville Bell Gardens 1995
3) 1:48.26 John Lester Amador Valley 2020
List courtesy of Jack Shepard.

All-Time North Coast Section List
1) 1:47.31 Pete Richardson Berkeley 1981
2) 1:47.9 Dale Scott El Cerrito 1972
3) 1:48.26 John Lester Amador Valley 2020
List courtesy of NCS website.

California All-Time List
1:46.45 Michael Granville (Bell Gardens) 1996
1:47.31 Pete Richardson (Berkeley) 1981
1:47.9c Dale Scott (El Cerrito) 1972
1:48.20 Sean Krinik (Valencia) 2010
1:48.2c Richard Joyce (Sierra) 1965
1:48.2 Jeff West (Crenshaw) 1979
1:48.26 John Lester (Amador Valley) 2020
List courtesy of