March 25, 2000

Alex Altaffer
Dallas Jesuit

1:53.58 - 800m


photo provided by The Inside Track Magazine


From left to right:
Lucas Koehler, Greenhill - 1:57.33
Josh Allen, Mesquite Poteet - 1:55.75
Alex Altaffer, Jesuit - 1:53.58
Tony Corona, Jesuit -


People Newspapers - Front Page Section

Jesuit student buries 33-year-old 
track record

Sports Editor

Alex Altaffer works out on the track at Jesuit. His homework has paid off.

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 that much.”

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 born.

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 well.

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 to do.”

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 Saturday.

There are also the TCIL championships, which will take place April 29 at Jesuit.

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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