Distance Ace Not Out for Jackson Track

Distance ace not out for Jackson track

By Mike Cane
Herald Writer

Jeff Helmer, one of the nation\'s elite distance runners, is no longer a member of the Jackson High track and field team.

Helmer, a senior ranked No. 1 among Class 4A boys in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter events by Washington Track Weekly, said Sunday he quit the Jackson track squad and will not defend his 3,200 state championship this spring.

Helmer, who accepted a scholarship to run for Arizona State University and in November won the 4A state cross country title, said he left the Jackson team because of an irreversibly deteriorated relationship with Timberwolves head coach Eric Hruschka.

Hruschka on Monday said that Helmer has not turned in the required paperwork to compete for Jackson. Hruschka, who teaches physical education at Gateway Middle School in Mill Creek, said he has not talked to Helmer since the cross country season ended in November. Asked if he knew why Helmer decided to leave the team, Hruschka said, \"I\'m not even going to speculate at this point.\"

Jackson athletic director Don Lichty confirmed that Helmer did not turn out for the team but did not comment on Helmer\'s reasons.

Speaking on the phone from New York, where he competed in the National Scholastic Indoor Track & Field Championships over the weekend, Helmer said that forgoing his final season at Jackson is \"a huge disappointment.\" Although Helmer will skip the high school outdoor season, he said he will run in several national meets this spring and summer, possibly to include the Mount SAC (San Antonio College) Relays in Walnut, Calif., the adidas Golden West Invitational in Sacramento, Calif., and the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

Helmer placed third in the 5-kilometer run (15 minutes, 0.39 seconds) and second in the 2-mile run (9:14.93) last weekend at the National Scholastic Championships in New York.