TACOMA — For someone who values victory over the clock, Jonas Price gladly made an exception Saturday.
This time was so fast, even his third-place finish brought a smile.
For the prep distance-running elite it’s a magic number — nine minutes — and the Eisenhower junior joined the rarified club in the 3,200-meter run, clocking 8 minutes, 57.65 seconds in the Class 4A final on a rainy, cool late afternoon at Mount Tahoma High School.
Not only did the time break the previous Valley record by over four seconds, it also ranks ninth in state history for juniors.
“Of course I was going for the win, but breaking nine minutes just really gives me great satisfaction for this state meet,” he said. “I was feeling really good and I knew we were running fast. That’s exactly what I hoped for.”
Once again, just like in Thursday’s 1,600, Price locked horns with two standout seniors — Mount Si’s Joe Waskom and Woodinville’s Luke Houser. Those three broke away quickly as Waskom, seeking a repeat, towed them through 1,600 in 4:28.
Price tucked into third until the fifth lap when he moved past Houser, who then decided to jump past Waskom and lead the trio through six laps.
The UW-bound Waskom wouldn’t be denied his second title, charging back to the front and finishing powerfully in 8:56.02. Houser barely fended off Price for second in 8:57.38.
The three-way battle produced such fast times that Price’s effort would’ve won the 4A state title in 16 of the last 17 years.
“I felt more confident in the 3,200,” said Price, who dropped his 1,600 best to 4:10.22 on Thursday while placing fourth. “Seeing who I was with, I knew it would be fast. It was the best I’ve ever felt. Competing in a race like that, it was amazing.”
Price hopes to run even faster, in better weather hopefully, at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle on June 15.
Not done, remarkably, Price returned from the colossal effort with less than an hour’s rest to run third leg on Eisenhower’s 4x400, which placed eighth as the CBBN district champion team took its well-deserved spot on the podium.
Like Price, West Valley’s Brayden Packard was a young runner basking in a well-executed career-best performance on Saturday.
Just a sophomore competing in the 800 final, Packard nevertheless bravely followed the lead pace of three-time champion Daniel Maton of Camas and Brian Martinez of Tahoma through the first lap and stoutly held on to third, finishing in 1:54.22.
For Packard, it was all good. The time, the place, the entire experience.
“That time was exactly what I was wanting,” he smiled after running West Valley’s third-fastest 800 ever. “I was right where I wanted to be at 400 and I had the confidence and strength to finish. I wanted to go out with those guys and hold on. The time and place, it was just a great day.”
While Saturday’s less-than-ideal conditions didn’t seem to bother the distance runners and their times, the chilly headwind did no favors for the sprinters.
But Mike Rivera didn’t mind.
While not getting the sub-11 times he was hoping for because of the weather, the Sunnyside junior proved he can sprint with the best by placing fourth in the 100 and eighth in the 200.
Rivera’s fourth-place medal in the 100, which came at 11.20 seconds into a significant headwind, is the highest by a local CBBN sprinter since Davis’ Craig Everhart won the 100 in 2001.
Looking to the future, which Price and Packard clearly are, Rivera’s 100 race was led by two seniors.