John Lester, shown here competing in the 1600m at the third Dublin Social Distance Fiesta, ran the third fastest 800m in CA history at a meet in Portland on Thursday night. (Photos by Dan Tyree)
John Lester, a senior at Amador Valley (NC), ran the third-fastest 800 meters in California high school track history on Thursday, when he completed the two-lap race in 1 minute, 47.65 seconds at the Stumptown Twilight meet held at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.
Lester's mark ranks No. 7 in U.S. history (No. 6 performer) and trails only national record holder Michael Granville and Pete Richardson on the CA all-time list. Granville, from Bell Gardens High (SS), ran 1:46.45 in 1996, and Richardson, of Berkeley High (NC), went 1:47.31 in 1981.
Running in the third four heats at the open meet, Lester came through the first 400 meters in 52.702 and closed in 54.942. He won his heat with the seventh-fastest time among 38 competitors in the event.
Lester, who has signed with Stanford, had hopes of making the U.S. Olympic Trials standard of 1:46.25 but has only until June 13th to hit that mark. It was unclear as of this writing if he would get another opportunity before the deadline. The top two finishers in the Stumptown race went under the standard.
That lofty goal seemed within reach after Lester ran 1:48.26 at the Desert Dream meet in Arizona nearly a year ago. A stress reaction injury to his fibula in December limited his training to riding a bike until late March.
Lester has continued to round back into form throughout the spring, running 1:51.62 at West Coast Relays at the beginning of May and 1:49.77 at a Sound Running event on May 15.
Lester's time at the Stumptown event is the fastest 800 meters in the country this year, surpassing the 1:49.67 dropped by Michigan star Hobbs Kessler a month ago for the U.S. lead.
Lester becomes the fourth CA athlete with a current national-leading mark, joining Colin Sahlman (Newbury Park/SS), Mia Barnett (Crescenta Valley/SS), and Paige Sommers (Westlake/SS) with U.S. No. 1 marks.
Sahlman, a junior, tops the country in the 1600 (4:03.56), mile (4:04.86), and 3200 (8:43.42). Barnett, a senior headed to Virginia, leads the country in the 1600 (4:37.58), mile (4:39.41), and 3200 (9:52.23), and ranks fifth in the 800 (2:07.31). Sommers, a senior headed to Duke, set the national record in the pole vault (14-9).
Additionally, Bellarmine College Prep (CC) has a national-best 4x1600 relay time (17:28.37), Jesuit (SJ) has a nation's-best distance medley relay (10:07.25) among boys teams, and JSerra (SS) has a U.S.-best girls DMR of 11:54.43.
Five other CA individuals have top-5 marks nationally: Lex Young, a sophomore at Newbury Park, is No. 2 for 3200 (8:43.71); Garrett Brown, a Stanford-bound senior at La Costa Canyon (SD), is U.S No. 3 in the pole vault (17-1); Elise Miller, a Stanford-bound senior at San Pasqual (SD), is U.S. No. 3 in the triple jump (41-1); Delaney Crawford, a junior at Upland (SS), ranks fourth in the 300 hurdles (36.64), and Isaiah Givens, a junior at Pasadena (SS), is No. 5 with a mile time of 4:08.43.
U.S. All-Time 800m Performers List
1. Michael Granville (Bell Gardens, CA) 1:46.45 (1996)
2. George Kersh (Pearl, MS) 1:46.58 (1987)
3. Pete Richardson (Berkeley, CA) 1:47.31 (1981)
4. Donavan Brazier (Grand Rapids, MI) 1:47.55 (2015)
5. Cameron Cooper (Oak Park, MI) 1:47.59 (2017)
6. John Lester (Amador Valley HS, CA) 1:47.65 (2021)
Note: Kersh also went 1:47.29 in 1987