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Steve Prefontaine, a 1972 Olympian and one of the greatest distance runners in United States history, was known for his aggressive running style where he ran at the front of races and forced his competitors to keep up with him.
“Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it,” was one of his famous quotes.
For Millikan sophomore Jason Parra, “Pre” is one former athlete he admires–not because he holds the American record in every distance from 2,000 to 10,000 meters, but because of how he competed.
“His gutsy race style,” Parra said. “I always like to start out hard and just make everyone work for it as much as they can and not give up any free wins.”
So far during his high school career, very few have been able to keep up with Parra, who is quickly becoming one of the most talented runners in the city in quite some time.
He was the Moore League champion as a freshman (15:04) and this year became Millikan’s record holder in the three-mile (14:19 at the Great Cow Run) and broke the course record at El Dorado last week when he won the race in 14:40.25.
“I feel like I could have done better,” Parra said after his win.
Runners have attempted to keep pace with Parra but he says he can tell early on if they will be able to keep up.
“Basically, I can hear their breathing (pattern) and how they are stepping and I’ve been racing for so long that I develop strategies mid-race to break them (competitors) down and beat them,” Parra said.
Talking with Parra, he has a business-like attitude and confident demonir.
Parra said he was 5 ½ years old when his dad, Jessie (also an assistant coach at Millikan), started training him.
“It was very minimal,” Parra said. “I was pretty chunky and really slow… my fastest mile two years after I started training was eight minutes.
He said after his first two years of running is when he started improving (five seconds per month) and he ended up breaking the world record for eight-year-olds in the mile (5:34) and 5K world record (19:04).
Rams boys cross country coach Pedro Ramirez, said Parra has been “as good as advertised” and his sophomore sensation wants to race with the “big boys” so he’s scheduled bigger invitationals.
Parra was invited to race in the boys sweepstakes race at Woodbridge Invitational in Irvine on Sept. 18, one of the biggest cross country in the nation, and was the top sophomore finisher with a 32nd place finish and a time of 14:45.
Besides running, Parra said he enjoys playing spikeball and video games and making YouTube videos.
For the rest of the season, Parra said his goal is to break the national all-time sophomore record for three miles.
In his latest race in Temecula last Saturday, just three days after his Moore League win, Parra didn’t beat the record. He still won the race.