PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Wilson High School distance standout, Alex Slenning, has overcome more than his share of adversity in cross-country.
Slenning lost his shoe during the 2016 Oregon High School cross-country state championships, but pushed on and still finished in third-place.
“It [happened] right at the two mile marker so it was two miles in [the race],” Slenning said with a smile. “My shoe had come off on the heel but it was still kind of on. Then we started going up the bark dust hill, and then it just starts to slip off. I think to myself, ‘Should I stop and put it back on? I’m like no way. I should just keep going.’
“And then I’m like running by all of the people and just hear, ‘That kid has one shoe on.’ I kind of just laughed to myself [and thought], ‘Yeah, I’m still doing pretty good.’”
“We had some guys back in 1983 [who did well at the Oregon cross-country state championships]. We had a really good team back then,” Thor Esbensen, Wilson’s head varsity cross-country coach, said. “We had some guys who placed high [at the state cross-country championships] but nobody got as high as third-place. And with his teammate Caleb [Seely] placing seventh, that was a pretty big deal for us.”
Slenning finished the 5K race in 15:29, and Seely was clocked at 15:47 on the muddy course in Eugene.
Our Athlete of The Week did something very special during his sophomore year in track.
“It was at [the] Centennial [Invitational] actually [when] I ran 8:33.87 [in the 3,000 meters] and then coach came up to me and said, ‘How fast could you have run that last 200?’ I said, ‘I don’t know? I was going pretty hard. I don’t know how much faster I could have ran.’ He said, ‘Well, if you did run a little bit faster you would have broken Galen Rupp’s sophomore record [in the 3,000 meters], which is 8:32. After I heard that, it was just kind of my goal for state. I ran 8:26.41 there [at Hayward Field]. I was pretty happy with my performance.”
Slenning, who’s only a junior, dreams of representing Team USA at the Olympics one day.
“After I broke the 6A sophomore record in the 3K it just kind of got me thinking, ‘Galen went on to become a silver medalist in the 10K [at the 2012 London Olympics]. [And I’m] thinking [to myself], if I just keep on doing what I’m doing then that could be me someday.’”