Jesuit student buries 33-year-old
By GREG FORD
Alex Altaffer works out on the track at Jesuit. His homework has paid
Breaking a record is a special achievement.
However, when you break one that’s stood for more than three decades,
then it’s even more special.
On Saturday, March 25, Alex Altaffer, a star track athlete at Jesuit
Preparatory School, did exactly that at the 36th Jesuit-Sheaner Relays.
When Altaffer, a 17-year-old junior, crossed the finish line in the 800
meters, he did so in a time of 1:53.58.
That was more than two seconds better than the 1:56.00 that John Mayfield
ran in the Relays back in 1967.
“I planned on doing it because I already had a faster time (1:55.1) this
season,” Altaffer said. “But I didn’t know that I would break it by
To give one the idea of how long ago Mayfield set
the record, the Dallas Cowboys were still nearly five years away from
winning their first Super Bowl, Roger Staubach was still serving in the
military, Troy Aikman was just a toddler, and Emmitt Smith had yet to be
Altaffer’s belief that he would break the record has nothing to do with
cockiness, but rather the confidence that comes with hard work. In his
case, that preparation began back in the winter.
“Alex is running what he’s running now because he did the preparation
work in November and December,” said Jesuit track coach Ross Oliver.
“When everybody else was at the mall doing their things, he was checking
with me weekly and daily to keep working the plan. So now he can run some
really hard workouts without having (muscle) teardown.”
While hard work has had much to do with Altaffer’s success, it also
helps that he’s been blessed with speed, something that is necessary in
a race like the 800 meters, which is basically a two-lap sprint.
“I wouldn’t classify him just as an 800-meter runner, because he’s
capable of running some extremely fast 400 meters, and can also jump up to
1,500 meters,” Oliver said.
“He’s got some great speed and he can sustain some pretty strong
paces,” he added.
At the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays, Altaffer had a goal of running around 55 to
58 seconds for the first half of the 800 meters.
“I came through right at about 55, so I felt good,” Altaffer said.
Altaffer has been running since about the 7th grade, but did not really
start focusing on the 800 meters until last year.
A summer coach encouraged him to run the event in order to take advantage
of his natural speed. That, combined with endurance, has served Altaffer
Including the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays, Altaffer ran in the 800 meters four
times, winning one other race.
Altaffer has also run the mile, and he is a member of the Rangers’ 4x400
relay and distance medley relay teams.
“I like doing two or three events a meet,” Altaffer said.
Added Oliver, “There have been a number of meets where Alex has run the
1,600 and turned around and anchored the mile relay. That’s pretty tough
Besides being talented and a hard worker, something else that works in
Altaffer’s favor is that he’s teammates with Tony Corona, another top
runner in the area.
Corona is still working his way into running shape after having played
soccer in the winter.
He finished sixth in the 800 meters at the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays.
“We can run off each other no matter what the meet is,” Corona said.
Currently Jesuit is in the middle of the season, with the upcoming
schedule including a trip to the Texas Relays in Austin on Friday and
There are also the TCIL championships, which will take place April 29 at
Altaffer will have those events, plus many more this year and next to
improve on his time and impress college scouts.
“As far as the future goes, it’s just a matter of what he wants to
train for; that’s what he can do well at,” Oliver said.
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