NEWTOWN TWP. >> Like a lot kids, Episcopal Academy’s Elias Lindgren played baseball as a youngster. He was, though, by his own admission, terrible at it.
“I couldn’t hit. I couldn’t throw and I couldn’t catch,” Lindgren said.
Ah, but he could run. His coaches at the Narberth Athletic Association soon realized that and put Lindgren’s specific skill set to good use as a pinch-runner, a move that paid huge dividends at the end of the season when he was about 10.
“I actually won our little league championship by stealing second base, third base and then home,” Lindgren said. “I scored the winning run by stealing home.”
Lindgren’s baseball days would come to an end when he discovered cross country in the sixth grade and track and field a year later.
Baseball’s loss turned into cross country and track and field’s gain.
By the time his senior season at EA ended, Lindgren was a three-time Delaware County champion (800, 1,600 and 3,200), and a two-time Inter-Ac League and Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association titlist (1,600 and 3,200).
The resident of the Merion Station section of Lower Merion Twp. also broke the school record in the 800, helped break the school mark in the 4 x 400-meter relay that was later broken without him. Lindgren also won The Class of 1910 Medal, The Scholar Athlete Award and The Mind, Body, and Spirit Prize at the school’s Spring Athletics Awards Assembly.
For those accomplishments Lindgren was named Athlete of the Year in boys track by the Daily Times.
Joining Lindgren on the All-Delco first team are Strath Haven’s Dayo Abeeb and Cooper Driscoll; Jarnail Dhillon and Gbarwho Flahn from Upper Darby; Zack Forney and Tony Graham from Ridley; Penncrest’s Christian Gallagher; Owen Galligan from Springfield; Daiyaah Hawkins, Petey Lemmon and Dan Whaley of The Haverford School; Alton McKenley from Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast; Derrick Patrick of Cardinal O’Hara; Aiden Tomov from Haverford High and Ethan Zeh of Radnor.
Abeeb and Driscoll are the only repeat selections on the All-Delco team, which was selected by the Daily Times sports staff after consultation with county coaches.
The success Lindgren enjoyed during the outdoor season did not come as a complete surprise. He earned All-Delco honors in cross country after sweeping the PAISAA and Inter-Ac League titles. The Williams College-bound senior followed that up with an eighth-place finish in the mile at the indoor state championships.
Lindgren set ambitious goals for the outdoor season. He wanted to run 4:20 in the 1,600 and break the school record (1:57) in the 800. He thought both marks were a bit of a stretch since his best time in the 1,600 coming into the season was 4:24.26 at the 2017 Delco Championships and he was a relative newby in the 800, yet he met both goals during at incredible performance at Delcos.
“One of the things about track is that it is so quantifiable,” said Lindgren, who plays the piano and guitar in his spare time. “You have your times, you have a number that shows how good you are and looking at the times I had, I could not have predicted that I would hit the times I did this season.”
Lindgren won the 1,600 in a personal best time of 4:18.34 to break the meet record of 4:19.04 set by Penn Wood All-Delco Mark Fowler in 1984. Lindgren followed that up with a school-record time of 1:56.29 to win the 800 and complete a sweep of the distance races. Two days year he won the 3,200. He’s the first athlete to accomplish that triple since Cardinal O’Hara’s Kevin James did it in back-to-back years (2014 and 2015).
“It was nice to have the 3,200 on Thursday, although it was a hot day for a 3,200,” Lindgren said. “That was tough. I think the thing that got me through the 800 was that I ran the best 1,600 of my life. I broke the meet record that was 30-something years old. I was so pumped up that race. Even though I was throwing up after the mile I was ready for the 800.”
Just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, Lindgren complete the triple again a week later at the Inter-Ac League championships, only that accomplishment was a little more impressive since all three events were on the same day.
And he won all three races in convincing fashion.
Lindgren defeated Mark Gregory of The Haverford School in the 800 by nearly two seconds and topped Peter Borger of Malvern Prep, the defending champ in both the 1,600 and 3,200, by five and nearly eight seconds, respectively.
According to EA coach Zach Richards, it was the fourth time an athlete won all three distance races at the league championships. The last to do it was Dustin Wilson of Chestnut Hill Academy in 2011.
“At Delco Champs, when he tripled there, that was something we hoped for and felt was something he could do,” Richards said. “But I don’t think we ever thought he could win so convincingly in all three at Inter-Ac champs. That’s where he really blew me away. He blew me away all season, but that was the culmination of his whole career.
“To do that in such a dominant fashion was just incredible, and there are some great runners in our league, some guys that got the better of him the year before at Inter-Ac champs. The progression from last year to this year was just incredible. He exceeded all of our expectations by far and I think he has a lot of room to grow, which is the great part about it.”
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