ALAMEDA (KPIX 5) – Cooper Teare hardly breaks a sweat in St. Joesph High School PE class. In the amount of time that some of his peers run a mile, he’s possibly gone four.
“I’ll run a 5:30, which is like jogging to me,” said the teenager from Alameda.
Running a mile in five minutes and 30 seconds would be a colossal disappointment for Teare when he steps on the track at Shoreline Stadium in Seattle on June 17 for the Pilots.
It will be Teare’s final chance to become the tenth high school athlete in US history to run a mile under four minutes.
“They used to think that if you could run an under-four that you would just die,” he said.
Heartbreak probably killed Teare last month at the Mt. SAC Relays in Torrance when he ran the mile in 4:00:16 – 17 hundredths shy of history. Still, it was the tenth fastest time ever.
“Snap of a finger,” he said with a bit of sadness left in his voice. “Maybe I could have leaned a little more; taken one more step I could have had it and carved my name into history.”
History of the mile begins in 1954 when British Olympian Roger Bannister ran it in 3:59:40.
There have been many athletes worldwide since Bannister initially hit the mark, but only nine high school runners from the United States. Three runners did it in the 1960s, and then the sport waited 34 years until the next.
“I’ve just imagined being the tenth on that list,” said Teare who is in his final days a St. Joe’s, the high school that once received national attention for basketball star Jason Kidd.
Four minutes is such a lofty time for prep runners because they typically lack physical maturity. Dominate runners also lack the level of competition needed for adequate drafting.
Pursuit of the mark has been a bit of an obsession for Teare who announced his intentions publically on social media.
“That’s a great thing to say,” said Dave Teare, Cooper’s father. “Nobody does that.”
The Teare family is full of runners, and Cooper is already the most accomplished by a long shot.
“The first time that I ever took Cooper to his first race he was nine and he came in second place. It was so natural, and he looks beautiful running,” said Dave Teare.
What’s even more beautiful is the scholarship he’ll receive next fall from the University of Oregon. Until then, the St. Joseph track and field coaching staff are hoping good things come under four.
“It will cement his status as one of the best track and field distance runners in high school history,” said Pilots coach Alex Mason.