Coleman's Drive to Success Brings New Excitement to HS Running in Washington

The latest Washington star runner earns national attention for achievements during cross country and track.

Ethan Coleman celebrates crossing the finish line in first at the Olympia 3,200 at Ingersoll Stadium on April 21, 2021. Photo courtesy of Holt Witter.

While most runners were holding off on their training during the absent cross country season in the fall of 2020, others found ways to make the most of an absent season. Some just logged in miles for base training, but athletes like Olympia's Ethan Coleman wanted more.

Sitting with his coach at school one day, Coleman was brainstorming ideas about creating time trials for himself to get something out of the fall. He even talked about setting up a race with another elite-runner from the other side of the state.

“I just remember making a passing comment to my coach saying, ‘I wish I could race (Isaac) Teeples in a real race,’” said Coleman.

“So, then my coach said, ‘Why don’t we just invite him over?’ and I didn’t think he would want to. Sure enough, a week or two later, we got him to come over.”

Kamiakin's Isaac Teeples was coming off an impressive sophomore campaign winning the 3A individual and team cross country titles in the fall, and went onto excel in unattached races in the non-existent track season, posting some of the best times in the country for sophomores.

“All my teammates would joke around with me because they knew I wanted to race and beat Isaac Teeples,” said Coleman. “But since my freshman and sophomore year, he’s been the big inspiration and goal to reach, and I think that’s been a big part of my progression as a runner to have someone like Isaac up there.”

It was as simple as a quick text message to race the state's best runner, and it became a reality in early October.

Coleman and Teeples ran one of the fastest unattached races in recent memory, running within a second of each other and posting times of 14:43 and 14:44 for a 5k on the track. The defending 3A state champ wasn't the one who crossed the finish line first. It was Coleman.

Coleman, who was 12th at the 4A state race the same year Teeples won the individual 3A crown, had taken down what everyone viewed as the "Goliath" of Washington runners in 2019.

"For me, that was a big confidence boost," said Coleman. "But my teammates were in a little disbelief. They never expected me to actually beat him."

At the time, it was just a one-time happening until things were cleared for a regular running season. Little did Coleman, Teeples, and the individuals in attendance that day know that it would be a preview for an all-time great race taking place a few months later.

Between October and April, Olympia coach Jesse Stevick had put together an invite that would bring in some of the most talented distance runners in Washington for purposes to race his own athlete to give him competition. Even athletes from Oregon were getting in on the race.

"Our coach preps us for races that will be challenging, and he has us do workouts where time isn’t a factor," said Coleman. "He wants us to learn how to race and how to compete.”

Thus, the Olympia 3,200 was born.

With elite-level athletes from Washington and Oregon signed up, this inaugural event was must-see racing. It even reached an audience on a national stage, with MileSplit USA attending to witness the historic race.

For Coleman, it was his first opportunity to showcase his talents to the entire country, all while running on his home turf.

Ethan Coleman (middle), Jamar Distel (left), and Isaac Teeples (right) leading the 3,200 race at Ingersoll Stadium in Olympia on April 21, 2021. Photo courtesy of Holt Witter.