Olympia's Coleman wins in an all-time classic under the lights on his home turf.
OLYMPIA - In a year where COVID took much away and we needed a positive outlook, putting together a race of an elite field of runners was the way to go.
However, Olympia Head Coach Jesse Stevick didn't expect this to become bigger than it did.
"Even a meet with just two events, it takes quite a bit of people to help pull this off," said Stevick. "Huge props to the timing crew and the assistant coaches at Olympia that helped out. There were just so many people who are thankful for this."
All eyes were on the brightly lit Ingersoll Stadium Wednesday night in Olympia for the inaugural Olympia 3,200 Invite featuring 34 of the best distance runners from Washington and Oregon in an unattached 3,200-meter race.
Olympia's own Ethan Coleman and Camas' Evan Jenkins delivered one of the all-time classic races ever in Washington as Coleman crossed the finish line in 8:49.57 for the win, while Jenkins was second running 8:50.77.
With no intentions of being first for the start of the race, Coleman opened up with a 66-second first lap and would be the one everyone was chasing down.
"To be honest, I didn't expect to lead from the start," said Coleman. "I figured someone was going to go out and push the pace and maybe run a 62-second first lap."
The race would settle in after two laps coming through the 800-meter mark at 2:15 with Coleman out front, and the next two laps would be even running from the lead runners as they would hit the 1,600 in 4:30.
With a personal best 1,600-meter time of 4:17, Coleman felt the first half of the race was painless. Not to mention the fact there were other runners at his level of capability to compete against.
"Those first two or three laps, it was pure adrenaline," said Coleman.
The only thing that caught his eye was the shadows of other runners trailing behind him, where he would then accelerate to get ahead further.
"I wasn't paying attention at all to the clock the first mile, " said Coleman. "I was staring at the ground and could see someone else's shadow. If a shadow moved closer to me, then I would move a bit faster, and that's pretty much what I did the entire race."
It became clear who was still in the race after one mile as the packs began to spread with Coleman and Jenkins as the lone top two runners, and 15 meters behind were Kamiakin's Isaac Teeples and Sehome's Zack Munson, duking it out for third and fourth.
Coleman and Jenkins were neck and neck running even splits of 66-67 seconds for the first three laps of the second mile. Both runners would begin their final kicks on the backstretch of the last 300 meters for the opportunity to be crowned the invite champion.
"It's clear (Evan) was on a mission," said Coleman. "I think he one of the greatest people I have raced against because he would not let go. No matter how fast I went, he was determined to stick with me."
But it was Coleman who had one last gear to secure the win successfully.
Flying down the homestretch, Coleman closed in his final 400-meters in an astonishing 58 seconds to post the fourth-fastest 3,200-meter time in Washington state track and field history. Jenkins would also close in 58 seconds.
"When you're racing someone like Jenkins who wants more than anything to outkick you, you have to go for it," said Coleman. "I've had a race like this with Isaac (Teeples) where it went down to the wire, so obviously, it makes me want to run even faster. I just moved and created the separation I needed to win."
Coleman's new personal best mark now ranks him fourth in the country, while Jenkins' time ranks sixth.
Kamiakin's Teeples finished third overall and was the third runner in the race to break the 9-minute barrier running 8:58.74. Sehome's Munson was fourth running 9:00.06.
Jesuit's (OR) Jack Bennett and John Schuler placed fifth and ninth running personal best times of 9:02.75 and 9:05.04.
Four more Washington runners rounded out the top 10, including Bishop Blanchet's William Schneider (9:03.45, 6th), Steilacoom's Sawyer Dagan (9:04.01, 7th), Riverside's Jamar Distel (9:04.97, 8th), and Selah's Cooper Quigley (9:08.7, 10th).
According to Athletic.net, between all 34 athletes who competed, there were 34 personal best marks set. To go along with those marks, seven school records were also broken.
"It was a super fun night," said Olympia coach Stevick. "Six guys are now top 25 in the nation from that meet, and 26 guys are running under 9:30. It was like a dream come true from a meet management standpoint."
Summit's (OR) Barrett Justema took home the girl's 3,200-meter title in a personal-best mark of 11:08.02, while teammate Payton McCarthy was second, also running a personal best time 11:16.83.
Ellensburg's Kate Laurent was Washington's top overall placer finishing in third with a personal-best mark of 11:17.96. Lakes' Kivi Johnson set a new personal best and school record running 11:22.12.
Both the Jesuit (OR) boys and girls Distance Medley Relay teams won their respective races. The boys ran 11:03.47, while the girls ran 11:57.81.
For all results from the Olympia 3,200 Invite, click here.
To view the full race, click here.