LEXINGTON – Jared Jefferson dominated the 3,200 meter race at the Class A state track and field championships for seven laps.
It’s an eight-lap race though and the Bracken County junior was unable to close out St. Henry’s Ethan Snyder for the state title, finishing in second in the race he yearned for a state title.
“I was wanting to run it wire-to-wire, show people what I’m here for and what I’m going to do next year,” Jefferson said. “It hurts a lot and it stings. It’s something I really can’t explain right now.”
Snyder ran a 9:47.64 to win the event, Jefferson finished with a time of 9:50.59 for second. Jefferson’s teammate Brandon Cox also earned a podium finish for the second straight year, finishing eighth with a time of 10:14.53.
“To me, he (Jefferson) ran the best race that I’ve ever seen,” Bracken County coach Forrest Hunt said. “Hindsight is maybe 20-20, maybe if he doesn’t take the first 800 so fast, maybe he has a little more in the tank. From a coaching perspective, I’ll take that one on the chin because in my mind if I don’t run him in the 4×800, maybe he has little bit more legs in him and he runs a little bit faster or just enough. Truth be told I feel like I let him down today.”
Jefferson was the pace-setter for the first seven laps, bolting out to the lead in the first lap and continuing to race out from there. After the first mile, Jefferson looked poised to stay in the top spot.
By the time the final lap hit, Jefferson held a near 50-meter lead on the rest of the field. Then came Snyder.
Snyder did something similar when the two raced one another in cross country, when Snyder placed second closing out strong and Jefferson third, finishing behind Holy Cross’ Keeton Thornsberry. With Thornsberry back in fifth, it was a two-man race in the final 300 meters between Snyder and Jefferson. Snyder really picked up his pace over the final half-lap, coming to a near sprint as he passed Jefferson with about 200 meters to go.
Jefferson didn’t have enough in the tank to catch him.
“I’m going to use this as motivation, keep grinding and win cross country state and the two-mile next year,” Jefferson said. “He did the same thing at state and should have known with this being his last race he was going to come on strong.”
Jefferson may not be pleased with the result, but the finish is the highest in school history at the 1A meet. It may be a moral victory, but that’s not stopping Hunt on how proud he is of him.
“Nobody has ever done this at our school. I told him tonight in the eight years I’ve coached, that’s the best race I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a more gutsy performance than what he did on the track. I couldn’t be more proud. He lead for 3,000 meters in a 3,200 meter race, Snyder put the most amazing kick in I’ve ever seen in track and field. They made one of the most boring races of the night to a really great race.”
Cox’s season was dealt with much adversity and was able to battle and land on the podium.
“I’ve had a rough season and didn’t run like I should have. But still overall okay and was able to get top eight and medal,” Cox said. “I’ll take it, move in, keep working over the summer and work harder than last summer.”
Other participants for the Polar Bears included the 4×800 team of Daniel Simons, Collin Jefferson, Cox and Jared Jefferson finishing in ninth place, one spot shy of a medal in a time of 8:44.25.
“If all ran a quarter of a second faster, we would have been standing on the podium. The guys took it pretty hard. It was a rough day overall,” Hunt said. “I can’t complain about the effort, they did everything they could.”
Trey Deaton battled hamstring and quad injuries and gutted out 23rd place finishes in both the long jump and 300 hurdles. Deaton’s longest distance in the long jump was 17-11.25. His hurdle time was 46.65.
“I hate it for him being a senior and not being able to put his best forward. I honestly feel he could have been on the podium in the triple jump and the long jump. I’m really excited for him in college moving forward. I know he’s playing football and will do track. I think he’s definitely got a lot more in store,” Hunt said.
Deaton is a senior while the 4x80o team all returns, setting up what should be a solid senior year for the four, both individually and as a team.
“It’s exciting. The ebbs and flows with motivation and coaching, I’m fired up for these guys for next year now,” Hunt said.
In the team results, Danville won the boys’ team title while St. Henry won the girls’ team title.