Former Eastlake running star returns home with pro teammates
June 17, 2014
By Neil Pierson
Jessica Tebo left quite a legacy for Eastlake High School runners to follow, and she returned to Sammamish last week to promote her career as a professional runner.
Tebo, known as Jessica Pixler during her days at Eastlake and Seattle Pacific University, is in her second year with the Brooks Beasts Track Club, a Seattle-based training team that includes 12 men and women with accomplished racing careers.
Tebo graduated from Eastlake in 2006 after a senior season in which she placed second at the state cross country meet, second in the 1,600 meters and first in the 800 meters.
She obliterated those milestones during a star-studded four years at Seattle Pacific, where she won five NCAA Division II track championships at the 1,500-meter and 5-kilometer distances, and three consecutive NCAA titles in cross country.
Tebo faced some adversity in her post-collegiate days, spending seven months recovering from a fractured foot. She said she’s been fully healthy for the past year, and her times are reflecting it: She qualified for the June 14 Diamond League 3-kilometer race in New York City.
Next to the Olympics and the world championships, the Diamond League races are probably the most prestigious events on the pro running circuit, Tebo explained.
“It’s been really exciting to get healthy and finally get in a really solid block of training, and feel like my old self again,” she said.
Tebo and several of her Brooks Beasts teammates were in attendance June 11 for a meet-and-greet event at the Plateau Runner store in Sammamish.
Store owner Elizabeth Steen said the opportunity to bring in a local professional racing team helps with business exposure, but it also connected young runners to the Brooks team. Several athletes from Eastlake and Skyline high schools turned out for the event.
“These are their idols,” Steen said. “… They can meet these people who are living their dream and find out what their lives are really like as professional athletes, because it’s a lot of work.”
Nick Symmonds, a two-time Olympic qualifier and 2013 world championship silver medalist in the 800 meters, is one of the newer members of the Brooks Beasts.
He was scheduled to appear at Plateau Runner, but didn’t show up because of another commitment.
Tebo said she hasn’t seen much of Symmonds since he trains at a different distance and has been taking time off due to an injury. But Symmonds has impressed some of his teammates.
“Just being around Nick is one of those things where it’s hard not to be inspired when you’re around him,” said Riley Masters, who joined the Brooks team last October after an All-American career at the University of Oklahoma.
“Every time he’s around, you’ve got to make the most of those moments and really learn from him. … He’s been an unbelievable addition to the team. The moment he came on his visit to the team, I was begging Brooks to sign him.”
Tebo was competing in New York last weekend, but the rest of the Beasts were headed to Oregon for the Portland Track Festival.
They plan to reunite at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships, June 26-29 in Sacramento, Calif.
Being part of the Brooks team has given Tebo things she wouldn’t have elsewhere, including better gear and medical support.
“I think when you have a team it really builds a greater support network,” she said. “It’s nice to have people every day at practice pushing you and helping you be your very best.
“If you’re having an off day, there’s a chance one of your teammates is having a great day, and you can kind of hang on them and let them help you out.”
Her younger brother, Nathan Pixler, is making a name for himself at Eastlake, where he was part of a state title-winning team in the 1,600-meter relay last month. Tebo watched the race and was floored.
“I think high-schoolers are incredibly inspirational,” she said. “… That was an incredible group of men. They were all motivated and they all ran their hearts out.”