PASCO, Wash. — After all the races and all the records, Jonas Price found himself a couple minutes away from a perfect season.
Just a half mile more.
But this turned out to be a cruel, vulnerable half mile that left the Eisenhower senior bewildered at what happened and why. The seemingly inexhaustible reserve of power and strength that built an undefeated season had suddenly turned to fumes.
Having towed a highly deferential field through most of the race at Sun Willows Golf Course, Price dropped everyone but Lewis & Clark's Wil Smith and with a half mile left the Class 4A state championship was there for the taking.
And Smith took it.
Unable to match that move, Price tried to salvage the best finish possible but slipped to eighth place with a time of 15 minutes, 23 seconds — six seconds slower than his runner-up finish last season.
A half hour later, Price was still trying to make sense of it.
"I've felt nothing like this before, it just wasn't there for me at all the last mile," he said. "When (Smith) made that move I couldn't react and, obviously it went downhill from there. That last half mile I felt totally out of it and couldn't do anything about it."
Price brought the field through one mile in 4:45 and two miles in 9:39. The thinning group that followed, with Smith in the midst, clearly followed his pace-setting. Having won all eight of his races this season from the front, he expected that.
But when he crossed the two-mile mark, he planned a surge just like the year before. But he couldn't execute the plan, which he didn't expect.
"My plan was to take it out, relax a little with the lead and then push it with a mile to go," he explained. "When I couldn't do that, I knew something was not right. Wil had a better plan, following, and he was the stronger, better runner today."
After his oh-so-close second-place finish last year, Price was wholly determined to claim his prize this time. When Smith jumped him and he couldn't respond, missing this last opportunity was heartbreaking — not an easy emotion to handle when the finish line is still not in sight.
"Everything went well for the first half of the race, the second half not at all. It just felt so different to me," said Price, who will sign with Oklahoma State next week. "I just have to accept this and keep going. I don't want to leave the season empty-handed. There's the Nike Regionals in Boise (Nov. 16) and I'd like to redeem myself."
West Valley junior Brayden Packard had an off-day himself, rising to 11th at two miles before drifting back to 28th at the finish in 15:52. He made the podium as a sophomore, placing 15th in 15:47, and was 28th as a freshman.
The Rams, who won league and district titles with only two seniors, entered state ranked ninth and matched that to improve four places over last year. Junior Ben Connell, in his debut season, ran second for WV in 16:04.
Two spots behind West Valley was Eisenhower, which got a strong run from sophomore Amha Alemeneh, who was 33rd in 15:57. Even with the loss of Price, the Cadets have a promising future with four sophomores and a freshman on this team.
On the subject of youth, Eisenhower's girls placed 12th with six sophomores. One of those youngsters, Ciera Reyes, turned in the top local effort of the day in the 4A girls race with a time of 19:20.
In her fourth state appearance, CBBN district champion Renelle Christensen of Davis was the next-best local in 19:32.