After a long but exhilarating freshman year at Oregon, followed by the surprise departure of the Ducks’ distance coach in late June, Cooper Teare headed home to prepare for his final meet of the season.
The distance runner is one of seven current or future Ducks in Tampere, Finland, this week for the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships that run Tuesday through Sunday at Ratina Stadium.
Teare is entered in the 1,500 meters and 5,000.
Joining him on the Team USA roster are Oregon freshmen Lauren Rain Williams in the women’s 200, Joseph Anderson in the men’s 110 hurdles, Shae Anderson in the women’s 4x400 relay pool and Jasmin Reed in the women’s 4x100 relay pool. Kiera McCarrell is in the women’s javelin for Team Canada.
Incoming Duck freshmen Josh Hoey is in the men’s 800 and Lexi Ellis is in the women’s triple jump.
Also entered is Portland’s Micah Williams in the men’s 4x100 pool. The Benson junior was the Class 5A state champion in the 100 and 200 in May.
It’s the second straight summer competing in a Team USA uniform for Teare, who placed third in the 1,500 at the 2017 Pan American Junior Championships in Peru.
“This meet is a step up in terms of caliber to last year,” Teare said. “Pan Ams is more low key and I don’t think I trained as much as I did for this. World Juniors is a really big deal. I’ve definitely been training harder, training smarter and trying to get into the best shape possible to do something once I get there.”
Teare has trained the last three weeks at home in Alameda, Calif., under the tutelage of Alex Mason, his former coach at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, a move made necessary when longtime Oregon associate head coach Andy Powell was hired to be the head coach at Washington.
“I have a really good bond with my high school coach, so it’s been easy to come back and get back into those workouts I was doing with him last year,” Teare said. “That was really nice to come back and have the guidance of a coach I really respect and who has really good judgement.”
Teare said Mason and Powell talked soon after Powell took the Husky job to plot a course for Teare’s training in these final weeks of the season.
“They kind of figured out a plan,” Teare said. “So it’s been a mix of the both of them.”
His workouts have included mostly speed work with Teare expecting to focus more on the 1,500 in Finland. In fact, if he makes the final in the 1,500, he said he most likely wouldn’t run the 5,000.
He had success at both distances during his first season at Oregon, dropping his personal record in the 1,500 to 3 minutes, 43.91 seconds during the Oregon Twilight, and to 13:46.46 in the 5,000 at the Bryan Clay Invitational. He earned honorable mention all-America honors in the 5,000 after a 17th-place finish during the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship finals in 14:08.18. He was one of only two freshmen in the field of 24.
He also joined the sub-4-minute mile club during the indoor season with a 3:59.29 at the Columbia Challenge in January.
Teare's track success came on the heels of a strong cross country season when he was named the Pac-12 freshman of the year. He was the Ducks’ top finisher at the season-opening Bill Dellinger Invitational as well as the Pac-12 championship meet, when he was eighth overall.
“Each season had their own highs and lows,” Teare said. “I think cross country, just coming into the first race, the Dellinger Invite, having a big, breakthrough race and being the top Duck in my first collegiate race was really cool. That was the best way I could’ve wanted to start college running.”
Now he’ll end his first year competing in an international meet and against elite competition, some with much faster times.
“There’s guys from Ethiopia and Kenya that have 10 seconds on me in the 1,500 in terms of a PR, which is just crazy to think about,” Teare said. “I definitely have high hopes, but there are guys competing with the best in the world as a youth, so it’s hard to say.”
The 1,500 semifinal heats begin Tuesday at 12:05 a.m. local time, with the final Thursday at 10:25 a.m. The 5,000 final is Saturday at 5:20 a.m.
Once his final race ends, his family vacation begins as he gets in a nice stretch of down time before having to report back to Eugene.
“After Finland, me and my family are going to Sweden and Denmark for a little bit,” he said. “I’ll have that time off with them and have fun around Europe. Then I’ll come back and get into cross country mode and hopefully by then we’ll know who the new coach is and everything.”