YAKIMA, Wash. — Jonas Price didn't get his record, but the disappointment was thinned by the very thing he loves about the Sunfair Invitational.
That everybody there is passionate about running and racing. It's a community.
"The way all these people wished me luck, cheered for me and wanted me to break the record, that was the best feeling I could ever have," said the senior from Eisenhower. "It was amazing, and that's Sunfair. I just love this meet so much."
Unbeaten this season with three course records to his credit, Price made a valiant bid to take down Sunfair's venerable 26-year-old record at Franklin Park but a blistering early pace — coupled with an overly taxing previous week — left him eight seconds short on an otherwise ideal Saturday afternoon.
Aiming for the record of 14 minutes, 48 seconds, Price got a promising start with a 4:45 opening mile but the legs weren't fresh enough to sustain the pace and he settled for 14:56, still a personal best by 28 seconds and tied for fourth fastest all-time on Sunfair's three-mile course.
There was plenty of benefit and purpose in the chase, Price was quick to see, even with his eager effort coming up short.
"I did feel a lot of pressure, but I just think it was good motivation for me," he said. "At the finish line I thought of all the people who've helped me and believe in me. I didn't want to let them down, but this was still a great experience. It was exciting to go after that record."
With a helpful push from West Valley's Brayden Packard in the early going, Price crested the terraces and crossed the first mile well within range of the time goal, even at 4:45. While Price was thinking he'd be happy with anything under five minutes, coach Phil English wanted him closer to 4:40.
"He was thinking if I hit 4:40 I could run the next two miles in 10 minutes, but for today that first mile was just too fast," Price explained. "In the second mile, I got up the dogleg OK but on top (of the terraces) I could feel the fatigue going into my legs."
"I could tell right away he wasn't as light on his feet as he usually is," English noted. "Last weekend he had three tough days in a row and I think it wore him down some. His mechanics were good, and he ran well in parts of the course where he's had trouble in the past. He got by today on mental fortitude."
Price reached two miles in 9:57, again within reach of the record with the type of third mile that he had been running in practice. But that feeling of fatigue at the top of the dogleg didn't dissipate and his last mile was 4:59, a hearty effort spurred on by crowds all along the course.
"Going out fast on a course this hard is good for me," said Price, who tied his father's Sunfair time from 1984. "This will prepare me for state where the first mile is always fast. I'm disappointed for sure, but it was still a solid effort."
While Price missed the record set by Mead's Matt Davis, he is the first repeat winner at Sunfair since Davis in 1993.
Packard, too, paid a hefty toll for going out fast but the junior held up for third place in the boys elite race, clocking 15:49 to clip his previous best by a second. Ellensburg senior Patrick Adkisson wasn't nearly so bold with the early pace and he worked his way up to fourth at the finish in 15:55.
In the girls elite race, Kennewick's Geraldin Correa, second here a year ago, set the pace the entire way and won in 18:14.
In a duel between two contenders for the 2A state title next month, Ellensburg senior Leah Holmgren pulled away from Bellingham's Livi Lackland Henry over the final mile to finish second, 18:21 to 18:25.
Holmgren ran a smart, well-measured race for someone who hadn't competed at Franklin Park since her freshman year.
"I wanted to get out with a good, strong pace, stay in contact and then see what I had left for the last mile," she said. "I was hoping for top three and had no idea about a specific time. But 18:21, I'm happy with that. It was good to race the girl from Bellingham."
Holmgren's time ranks sixth-fastest ever for local runners at Sunfair and just clips Uhuru Hashimoto's 18:22 for Ellensburg in 2017.
Kate Laurent, Holmgren's sophomore teammate, ran her best race of the season, placing second in the sixth flight in 19:17. Goldendale's Ellie Rising dropped well under 20 minutes at Sunfair for the first time, clocking 19:28, and Wapato's Crystal Colin sliced 26 seconds off last year's time at 19:32.
In team competition, Kamiakin swept the 4A-3A trophies with the boys winning their third straight title just one point from perfection with eight points. The Braves won each of the first six varsity flights and Isaac Teeples finished second to Price in 15:12, one of the fastest sophomore times ever run at Sunfair.
Ellensburg's boys and girls both finished second to Lakeside in 2A-1A scoring with Lakeside's girls winning by one point, 19 to 20.