LEWISTON – George Foster likes running the 800. He’s O.K. with the 400, too.

And from the looks of it, when he gets to college and starts having to run the 600, Foster will be fine with that distance, too.

Foster easily won his heat in the 600-meter run at the New England Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday with a time of 1:22.6.

Even better for the Lewiston High School standout, though, was his time in relation to the rest of the field. That 1:22.6 put him in third place overall, one of the top performances by a Maine athlete.

“When I went up to the awards table afterward, the guy looked at me and said, ‘You had to do it the hard way, huh?'” Foster said. “It’s hard being in a heat where you’re the fastest runner.”

Last year, Foster ran in the slowest of five heats in the same event.

“I won that one easily,” Foster said, “but my time wasn’t even in the top 10. This year, I figured I’d do more than just try to win my heat and I went for it.”

Foster went out quickly, hitting the 400-meter split at 52.6 seconds, according to Lewiston coach Ray Putnam.

“That’s flying,” Putnam said. “He’s not normally a 400 runner, but to go to the 600-meter race at New Englands, the 400 was the race to run in Maine. He ran a smart race, a very good race.”

Foster admitted that it could have been even faster.

“I felt tight in my hamstring in the final 100 meters,” Foster said. “It was hard to kick that last 100.”

In addition to his personal goal of winning the race, Foster also had another reason to do well at New Englands – college scholarships.

“We knew some schools were looking at him, and we knew his best events were the 600 and 800,” Putnam said. “The 800s run a 1,000 at New Englands, and that’s not really (Foster’s) strength, so we went with the 600.”

According to Foster, the University of New Hampshire, Akron (Ohio) and the University of Massachusetts have shown interest.

“I kept trying to tell myself, ‘No pressure, no pressure,'” Foster said. “This race did help me out in the long run, though, I think.”

Lewiston also sent a 4×800-meter relay team to the New England event. The four-man team of Jeff Lucier, Sadam Abdi, Matt Driscoll and Joe Travaglini placed 18th.

None of the Edward Little athletes who qualified were able to attend because school was cancelled Friday. John Alexander, who was scheduled to run in the 55-meter dash and was .02 away from former EL star Colby Brooks’ school and state record, would have finished in sixth place with his seed time of 4.60 seconds.

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