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HIGH SCHOOL TRACK

Simeon Birnbaum to continue track career at Oregon

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Simeon Birnbaum Oregon

Rapid City Stevens senior Simeon Birnbaum poses in an Oregon uniform at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon during a visit earlier this year.

Simeon Birnbaum’s storied career will continue at the nation’s premier track and field school.

The Rapid City Stevens senior announced Sunday evening that he has committed to run track at the University of Oregon following graduation this spring.

“I never would have guessed that I would have this good of an opportunity to set me up in this good of a position for the future,” Birnbaum told The Journal. “I think with my goals and what I'm going to try to accomplish in the future, that Oregon is the best place for me.”

Birnbaum burst onto the national scene last season with a string of noteworthy performances at some of the biggest track and field meets in the sport. On June 15, he became the 17th high schooler to break four minutes in the mile at 3 minutes, 59.51 seconds (a state record) at the Brook PR Invitational.

Later that week he finished second in the 800-meter run at 1:50.12 (a state record) at the Nike Outdoor Nationals at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

While on Oregon's campus in Eugene for that meet, he became familiar with the school and coaching staff. The standout runner said he thinks Oregon head coach Jerry Schumacher will help him take his skills to the next level.

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“A big part of that would just be having a bigger team around me with people at my level who will push me and people that are better than me that will show me how to get faster,” Birnbaum said. “Being around arguably the best coach in the USA right now for us distance runners and recruits out of high school that will even be faster than I am, will all push me to the level I want to be at.”

Birnbaum also holds the state record in the 3,200-meter run at 8:55.22, a record set at the Howard Wood Relays. At the Class AA state meet in May, he swept the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 to lead Stevens to a runner-up finish as a team.

During cross country season this fall, he added a second consecutive Class AA individual title at 15:19 and led the Raiders to a boys team championship with 122 points.

He said he’s excited to take advantage of all the bells and whistles that accompany the Ducks’ program through its partnership with Nike. At the end of the day, however, the coaches and marked success, including 32 team championships and a slew of Olympians, pushed Oregon past other schools in the mix.

“It was a very difficult decision,” he said. “I love the schools I was looking at, I loved the guys on the teams and I really loved the coaches and I think they’re some of the best people in the NCAA.”

Birnbaum said his decision came down to three schools, Oregon, Tennessee and Northern Arizona, but after weeks of evaluating his options, Oregon proved the best option for the Rapid City product.

“Eventually there was a stretch where I said, ‘I think I want to go to Oregon,’ and it sat with me for two or three weeks and nothing really changed,” Birnbaum said. “In the process I already knew what the colleges had to offer, and already thought it through, so I decided to just pull the trigger.”

Birnbaum returns to the track this spring as the Stevens boys aim for their first team state title since 2010.

Contact Alex Dodd at ADodd@rapidcityjournal.com

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