It was hard to believe just 15 months ago, the Coronavirus pandemic canceled an entire track and field season in the state of Washington.
But in a year of uncertainty, this was truly a season to remember.
Not only did these athletes get their chances to compete this spring, but they also went above and beyond all our expectations in all aspects of the sport.
We look back at the top 10 boys distance runners from the 2021 year to conclude this track season.
1. Ethan Coleman, Olympia
It was one of the best seasons we have seen from an individual in quite some time for Washington running. Olympia's Ethan Coleman placed himself in the discussion of the nation's most elite high school runners this season after defeating the defending 3A state cross country champion Isaac Teeples, and outkicking Evan Jenkins at the Olympia 3,200 Invite running a time of 8:49.57, ranking him 10th in the country. The junior also posted personal-best marks in the 800 (1:54.75) and 1,600 (4:12.28), which ranks top 10 in Washington. He also won three SPSL titles in all three distance events in dominating fashion.
2. Isaac Teeples, Kamiakin
Isaac Teeples was one of the best all-around distance runners this track season, including cross-country. Teeples ran the fastest 1,600 time in the state at 4:09.21 to take the win at the Tacoma High-Performance Meet and ranks top three in the state in the 800 running 1:53.41 and in the 3,200 running a second-place Stumptown Twight mark of 8:51.43. Won three Mid-Columbia Conference titles in all three distance events leading the Kamiakin Braves to a second-place team finish.
3. Evan Jenkins, Camas
There have been great runners who have come through Camas' program, like Daniel Maton and Yacine Guermali. Still, Evan Jenkins has created a new standard of excellence within the Papermakers program. Jenkins went undefeated in GSHL meets and led the Papermakers to the district title scoring his own 30 points, winning the 800, the 1,600, and the 4x400 relay. Ran personal best times of 1:56.79 in the 800, 4:11.99 in the 1,600, and 8:50.77 in the 3,200. Finished runner-up at the Olympia 3,200 and fourth at the USATF Rotary meet in the 1,600.
4. Brenden Charbeneau, Jackson
Brenden Charbeneau was overlooked by so many coming into the season because of the talent in front of him, but this is a steal of an athlete for Pat Tyson and the Gonzaga cross country and track program. The Jackson senior ran the second-fastest 1,600 time in the state at the Tacoma High Performance in a time of 4:10.44 placing second behind Kamiakin's Teeples. A few weeks later broke the nine-minute barrier to run 8:58.97 at the Stumptown Twilight to place sixth. He also won the Everett School District Championship 800 in a personal best time of 1:59.82.
5. Will Schneider, Bishop Blanchet
Will Schneider went into this season wanting to learn more about his abilities on the track, and what he got out of it was more than he had expected. Schneider ranked first for all sophomores in Washington in the 800 and 1,600 running 1:56.45 and 4:11.19 and second in the 3,200 running 9:03.45. At the Metro Culminating Meet, Schneider placed first in the 800 and 1,600 and placed second in the 3,200, helping the Braves to the team title scoring 28 points. Other top performances came the Olympia 3,200 placing sixth and the Clark Country Distance Carnival in the mile placing fifth.
6. Jamar Distel, Riverside
He may not have raced as much this spring as everyone else had, but when Jamar Distel stepped on the starting line, he delivered in every race. Distel ranked first in 1A for the 800 and 3,200 and posted three personal best times in all distance events running 1:55.97 in the 800, 4:12.47 in the 1,600, and 9:04.97 in the 3,200. Placed fifth in the mile at the Tacoma High-Performance meet and eighth at the Olympia 3,200.
7. Cooper Quigley, Selah
Cooper Quigley not only had major improvement's this season in the 800 and 1,600, but he also established himself as the state's premier middle-distance runner. Three of his personal best runs from this spring came at prestigious meets such as a first-place finish in the 800 (1:54.24) at the Holder Relays, a ninth-place finish in the 1,600 (4:14.90) at the Clark Country Distance Carnival, and a 10th-place finish at the Olympia 3,200 (9:08.70) Invite. The Selah junior went undefeated in CWAC meets and won the 1,600 and 3,200 races and a key leg to Selah's winning 4x400 relay team at the CWAC Showcase.
8. Zack Munson, Sehome
Not only is Zack Munson one of the most talented long-distance sophomore runners in Washington, but the Sehome star is also among the nation's best as well. Despite opting out of running for Sehome this spring, Munson had one of the best seasons for any underclassman with the Galbraith Track Club posting three personal best times, including an 8:57.14 fifth-place run down at the Stumptown Twilight in Portland, one of the fastest sophomore marks since Seattle Prep's Joe Hardy ran 8:55 back in 2012. He also ran 2:01.65 for the 800 at the Clark County Distance Carnival and 4:13.25 for the 1,600 at the Tacoma High Performance Meet.
9. Rob McManus, Cashmere
Rob McManus would have been a heavy favorite this spring for the 800, and 1,600 state titles at the 1A meet with the potential to break a few state records. But for a non-state year, this was a year to remember for the Cashmere senior. McManus came away with new personal best marks in the 800 (1:56.31) and the 1,600 where he ran 4:10.90 at the Tacoma High Performance Meet to finish in third. He also ran a personal best 3,200 time of 9:45.16. McManus's competitiveness will be missed here in Washington, but his career isn't over as he will be running for Montana State University.
10. Aiden Emerson, Arlington
The expectations would be high for Aiden Emerson his sophomore year, but of course COVID hit and he would have to wait another year to prove his worth. Needless to say, the wait was worthwhile. The Arlington junior posted the fastest 800 time in the state running 1:53.13 at the South Sound All-Comer Meet this June and ran a top-five 1,600 time in the state at the Liberty Twilight in a first-place run of 4:11.78. Emerson was a key leg to Arlington's 4x800 and DMR teams at the Distance Carnival #2 as the Eagles were first in both events.