800-meter run is possibly the hardest event in track and field. It is a test of speed, tactics and stamina. The last 200 meters, in particular, can be painful and a test of the runners will and desire.
And it is this last leg of the race that Jefferson High senior Jonathan Moore looks forward to. “That's my favorite part,” he said.
Moore has been running track since he was 8 years old. He said he wasn't fast enough for the 100- or 200-meter dash, so he gravitated to the 800. Before getting to high school, Moore had a running style where he would sit back in the pack and try to kick out in at the end.
When he got to Jefferson, and Moore’s coaches encouraged him to be more aggressive and lead from the start.
“It is something he has been working on (leading the race from the start),” said Jeremy Burnett, the head coach of the boys track team at Jefferson. “It’s one of those things that (Moore) surprises himself seeing how good he could do it.”
Last year was a breakout year for Moore. He won the Hillsborough County championship in the 800 and was third at the 3A state in the event after running a personal best of 1:54.53.
This year he is the fastest returning runner in the event in the state for 3A. Among the people helping Moore in his quest to win a state title is former Jefferson great Evander Jones. Jones was the state runner-up in cross country in 2005 and earned all-state honors in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter run.
Moore said he trains occasionally with Jones, who lives in Orlando, and that it has helped him greatly.
“(Jones) tells me to run my own race and that I have to have heart. One thing I didn’t used to have was a lot of heart,” Moore said. “When you run with someone like that you only get better.”
Already this year Moore has won the prestigious Steinbrenner Invitational that was held at the University of South Florida. He also took fourth in the open 400-meter dash after running 49.45.
Given his ability, it presents challenges for the Jefferson coaching staff to figure out how to maximize the points Moore can score at a meet.
“There is always a discussion of what events are we going to put him in,” Burnett said.
Moore can plan on always running the 800, though. With the state meet a month away, he is getting ready to peak and see if he can bring the gold home.
“He just needs to keep working hard, he has what it takes,” Burnett said.