Menlo News April 22, 2023

Knights 4x800 sets meet record at Oregon Relays

Knights win gold in 7:49.13 at historic Hayward Field

Menlo School’s 4x800 team of Aiden Deffner, Will Hauser, Landon Pretre, and Justin Pretre set an Oregon Relays meet record, winning in 7:49.13 at the historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon.

The Knights topped the previous-best of 7:53.81 set by Mountain View-Idaho in 2016.

”It was a really emotional moment for all of us, as a team we’re constantly competing on the national level against the top athletes in the country so taking home a gold after so many silver and bronze finishes is really satisfying,” Justin Pretre, a senior, said. “I’ve always been so proud of this team and I’m ecstatic that we could mark Menlo into the history books at such a prestigious meet as Oregon Relays.”

Justin took the handoff from his brother Landon, a sophomore, for the anchor and recalled what he worked on all season.
“Getting the baton I was just telling myself repeatedly to be patient,” Justin said. “I don’t need to win the first lap, I don’t need to win the first 600, or even the first 700, I just need to win the 800. So it was all about staying relaxed and then finding the strength to make all of my teammates’ hard work in their legs worth it.”
They ran even faster at Arcadia, with the reordered 3,200-meter relay of Justin Pretre at leadoff, then sophomores Landon Pretre, Hauser and senior Deffner as anchor, and took silver in 7:47.23. The 4x800 time ranks fifth in the state.The seniors started and finished the relay, and Deffner, the leadoff, set the pace.

“Before the relay, we were confident that we could pull off the win if we all ran a solid race, and my goal was to win the first leg,” Deffner said. “The race started slower than I had expected, so I took the lead with a lap to go feeling good. I was able to maintain a lead and hand off to Will a few seconds ahead, which was more than ideal to set up the team for a win.

“Our relay has been in very competitive races this season, so we’ve been placing second frequently behind some of the best teams in the nation,” Deffner said. So seeing Justin break the tape at the finish line was instantly an incredible feeling for all of us! We hadn’t realized it was a meet record until they announced it, which is even more rewarding to know that we accomplished much more than winning a single race.”

Each of the Knights ran a second race. On Friday, Justin ran the 2 miles in a school-record 9:16.15 to take 11th of 89 runners. Deffner ran the 800 shortly after the relay. Later that night, Landon Pretre and Hauser ran the Championship Mile, finishing eighth and 10th, respectively.

“The doubles they all the athletes did at a big meet like this was so impressive, ” Coach Jorge Chen said. “Up here, it’s the mecca of distance running so to be able to compete well here was a testament to their work. Every leg of that relay was very calculated and each one of them had a job to do. They did it very well to lead up to Justin’s amazing finish of :55 that last lap.”