Varsity Extra

Borah runner Christianson is No. 1 in the state, and a math whiz

Meet Borah High runner Sara Christianson

Sara Christianson owns the state's top times in the 800 meters, 1,600 and 3,200.
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Sara Christianson owns the state's top times in the 800 meters, 1,600 and 3,200.

To many at Borah High, Sara Christianson is known for her academic accomplishments.

The twice-elected student body treasurer is a 2016 Boise Rotary Century Scholar, which recognizes the top 100 graduating seniors from Boise’s eight public and private high schools.

Christianson maintains a weighted GPA of more than a 4.0 and is taking two college-level calculus classes. She has a scholarship to run for Oregon State and plans to major in engineering.

But solving complicated math problems isn’t Christianson’s only talent.

She has established herself as the top female distance runner in the state this spring by running school-record and personal-best times in the 800 meters (2 minutes, 15.60 seconds), 1,600 (4:57.31) and 3,200 (10:50.04).

In each of her record-setting races, Christianson has been her own best competitor.

“A lot of people just like to follow her (on the track). It’s hard, because nobody wants to try to take the lead from her,” Borah cross country and distance coach Tim Severa said. “She’s kind of towing the whole pack around. I’ve told her she just has to figure out her splits and just run, and it’s worked so far.”

A stress fracture in her left shin robbed Christianson of the chance to compete for her first state title in cross country in the fall. She finished fifth as a junior behind four seniors.

“That was really disappointing for her,” Severa said. “But it was disappointing for our whole team because she was our team leader.”

Christianson turned to cross training while waiting for her shin to heal, trying everything from cycling to swimming to stay in shape.

“A lot of people think she just rested,” Severa said. “She was doing twice as much as she would have been doing if she was running, just because she was bored, for one thing.”

When Christianson returned to running for the indoor track season, she said she had to work hard to regain her confidence.

“What I’ve been focusing on this year is to trust my training. I’ve been trying to put in the effort in these off days and these trainings, and hopefully that carries over in my races,” Christianson said. “I just want to run my best each race that I’m given, and I think not having that cross country season has really helped me train hard to get back to where I am.”

Christianson is on pace to win her first individual state championship after a pair of runner-up finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200 last spring. She finished behind Emily Hamlin, now a freshman at Washington who holds 5A state meet records in three events.

“I was really motivated this year to at least get those school records,” Christianson said. “Now that I’ve hit those, I’m just going to continue training hard, working hard and whatever happens, happens, I guess, at this point.”

In three previous state meets, Christianson has run the 1,600 and 3,200, finishing no lower than fifth. Severa hasn’t ruled out the possibility of his standout competing in all three distance races in the May state meet at Dona Larsen Park. Christianson also is a part of the Lions’ 4x400 relay team that ranks second in the state.

“Her favorite events are the (1,600) and (3,200),” Severa said. “She’ll do those, and we may, if injuries stay clear, put her in the 800 just to see what she can do.”

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @IDS_VarsityX

Track & field key dates

  • YMCA Invitational at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Mountain View High
  • 5A District Three meet May 12-13 at Meridian High
  • 5A/4A state meet May 20-21 at Dona Larsen Park

Christianson’s records at Borah High

  • 800 meters: 2 minutes, 15.60 seconds (old record 2:16.10 by Aunamarie Charlton, 2006)
  • 1,600: 4:57.31 (old record 4:58.66 by Christianson, 2015)
  • 3,200: 10:50.04 (old record 10:54.69 by Nicole Nielsen, 2009)
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