Track & Field: Bexley Lions’ Spencer Stevenson tests his limits in 800 meters

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Bexley senior Spencer Stevenson runs before practice May 5. He is nearing a program record for the boys track and field team in the 800 after excelling in the 400 in past seasons. He has run the 800 in 1:58.52 and hopes to walk on to the Air Force Academy track team.

Spencer Stevenson is stretching his limits this season for the Bexley boys track and field team.

The senior specialized in the 400 meters as a sophomore but now is zeroing in on a 35-year-old record in the 800 in an effort to walk on to the track team at the Air Force Academy.

Stevenson won the 800 in 1 minute, 58.52 seconds in the Anthony Wilson Invitational on May 1 at Franklin Heights. The program record is 1:54.0, set by Mike Millard in 1986.

“I’ve accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy, and you need a 1:56 or below to walk on,” Stevenson said. “That’s the goal.”

Coach Shane Roberts said there’s no doubting Stevenson’s determination.

“Spencer wanted to get under 2:00 in the 800 as a starting point to tell the Air Force coach that he ran the 800 in that time,” Roberts said. “He ran a 1:58 (at Franklin Heights) and wasn’t pushed so he could do better when he’s pushed.

“He has been gifted his whole life, but he hasn’t just sat on his talents. I remember the times he was in the alley behind my home when we were working on his sprint form. He wanted to get that kick at the end. He used to run cross-armed, but we worked on that as well.”

Stevenson said running cross-armed was taking away energy and adding to his times.

“I still cross my arms a little bit,” he said. “I’m trying to focus more now on being straight forward and not wasting energy going side to side. You waste a lot of energy going side to side, so I’m trying to reach my full potential by focusing my energy forward and really propelling myself to the time I want.”

As a sophomore, Stevenson won a Division II district title in the 400 in 50.32, and he would finish sixth at the regional in 51.09. He also competed on three relays — the 800, 1,600 and the 3,200. He joined 2019 graduates Nicholas Hall and Grant Halliday and 2020 graduate Miles Feinknopf on the latter, which went on to finish fifth at the state meet in 8:03.07.

“Spencer was probably always more of an 800 runner,” assistant coach Jeff Landis said. “He could run the 400, but then he wouldn’t be able to run the 800 after that. For him to run in college, the 800 is probably more his event.

“He has good speed, but he’s probably more of a 50 (seconds) than a 48 (in the 400). He has the strength and speed to run the 800. This year we’ve been working a little bit more on endurance. He ran all winter as a distance runner, but he could still run from anywhere from the 200 to the (1,600).”

Stevenson has been able to settle into running the longer distance.

“I think as I got older, the extra 400 meters is better because I’m more of a maintainer than a speed guy,” he said. “I feel like my strength is my endurance rather than my ability to run hard.

“This past cross country season, I dropped about a minute and a half off my freshman time, and it gave me the confidence to look at the 800 a little more seriously. I was in the (3,200) relay my sophomore year and had some success with that. I was going to try the 800 last year, but that (season) didn’t happen. This year I decided to go for it, and I’ve really loved it.”

Stevenson has a 4.04 GPA and looks to major in civil engineering at the Air Force Academy, which has been a longtime goal.

“I really love the idea of serving a bigger purpose in life, and I really love the aspect of teamwork and camaraderie,” he said. “That’s part of the reason I love track and cross country.

“Devoting a life to the military where you’re working as a team to accomplish these huge projects is great. I couldn’t think of a better career.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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