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Former West High star blazes fast 800-meter race in Spokane

Van Williams | Alaska Sports Hall of FameAlaska Sports Hall of Fame

After playing possum early, Anchorage’s Hans Roelle of Eastern Oregon University picked up the pace late to win a big 800-meter race at the WAR VII track and field meet in Spokane, Wash.

The junior sat back in the pack for the first lap before unleashing a killer kick that saw him post a personal-best time of 1:51.17 en route to beating a Gonzaga runner in a photo finish. Andy Phillips was second in 1:51.83, a Gonzaga record. Roelle’s time ranks No. 2 in Eastern Oregon history.

Roelle, a West High graduate, ran the first lap in 55.6 seconds and the second lap in 55.5 on the second lap.

“Running that even at that speed in an 800 is pretty tough,” Eastern Oregon coach Ben Welch said.

Roelle’s time is the second-fastest in the NAIA this season as he hit the association's “A” standard for nationals.

After the 800, Rolle came back to rip a 48.8 split on the third leg of Eastern Oregon’s 4×400 relay team that finished fourth. The WAR VII meet featured a dozen teams from Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

Last month, Roelle won the 1,000-meter run at the NAIA Indoor Championships, again using a kick down the stretch to beat the field.

Van Williams, a 20-year local sports writer and the former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News, writes about the athletic exploits of Alaskans for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at alaskasportshall@yahoo.com.