Ethan Price was a 14-year-old freshman at Mascoutah High School the first time he ran on the famed three-mile course at beautiful Detweiller Park in Peoria.
A member of the Indians squad that would go on to place 20th in the 27-team Class 2A State Cross Country Meet in 2013, Price placed 177th overall with a time of 16 minutes, 50 seconds.
Three years and well over 1,000 miles of training later, Price ran the same three-mile course last month.
Running in the shadows of three-time all-state runner Ben Flowers, of Jerseyville, for much of the 2016 season, Price ended his high school career by taking 37 seconds off his personal-best time and earning all-state recognition with a 14th place finish in the Class 2A state finals.
“I remember my freshman year running at Detweiller (Park) when we (Mascoutah) qualified to compete as a team. I was really happy because it was the first time I had ever gone under 17 minutes,” Price said. “I don’t know what the difference was this year, but it seemed like I kept getting faster each meet.
“Detweiller is a really flat course, and the times are usually fast. The way my training had gone all year, I was aiming to be at my peak at the state meet. I guess I was.”
A two-time all-Mississippi Valley Conference thinclad, Price won both the Belleville West Invitational and the St. Clair County championship during the regular season. But it was his postseason performance that earned him a second-straight Belleville News-Democrat Runner of the Year honor. Price shares the honor with Freeburg High School junior Charlie Parrish.
As much improvement as Price made this year, he was still second to Flowers, who placed eighth in the state finals.
But Price cut the gap between the two top Class 2A runners in the metro-east, according to second-year Mascoutah coach Darren Latham.
“Ethan was faster this year. We did some work with 400-meter splits in order to improve his speed,” Latham said. “He also did the cross training and worked with the weights He wasn’t this skinny little kid any longer. He was much stronger than he’s ever been before.
“But what made Ethan the runner he has become is his work ethic. He’s a young man who is dedicated, and whatever we asked him to do, he did.”
Price began his postseason by finishing second behind Flowers at the MVC Championships, He then placed fourth at both the Triad Regional and at the Decatur MacArthur Sectional.
It was at the Decatur MacArthur Sectional where Price achieved his three-year goal of reaching the state final race. His time of 15 minutes, 31 seconds was a personal best.
“I ran a good race that day. It was with about 200 meters left that it hit me that I was going to be able to qualify for the state finals,” Price said. “I remember that I was smiling the final 200 meters and that I was able to pass another runner to place fourth. It was a great day.”
Price would have another great day the following Saturday in Peoria.
Running before a crowd of over 10,000 cross country coaches, athletes and fans from around the state, Price ran the race of his life for the second week in a row.
“It was a great day because I had my entire family and so many friends there to watch me compete. The goal was a top-25 finish. I didn’t know if I could do it or not,” Price said. “The pace was fast, which was good. I was able to stay up there, and I really had to because I don’t have much of a kick. We were at the mile mark at like 4:47 and the two mile mark at 9:50. I felt good, and I felt strong.
“Coach (Latham) told me later that I was 25th at one stage of the race, but in the last mile, I just gave it everything I had. I just went for it, and I was able to go past several other runners.”
With his high school career complete, Price has begun the college-recruiting process. He is considering the University of Evansville, among others.
Belleville News-Democrat Boys All-Area Cross Country Team
Runners of the Year
Ethan Price, Mascoutah, sr. and Charlie Parrish, Freeburg, jr.
Coach of the Year
Carl Florczyk, Freeburg
Class 1A Boys
Charlie Parrish, Freeburg, jr.
Alex Mack, Freeburg, sr.
Brandon Schnitker, Nashville, jr.
Luke Goebel, Mater Dei, jr.
Corbin Schwable, Freeburg, soph.
Caleb Zgonina, Nashville, jr.
Javon Watkins, Metro East Lutheran, jr.
Drew Wilkerson, Freeburg, sr.
Kevin Medlin, Mater Dei, jr.
Carson Smith, Freeburg, soph.
Craig Collier, Freeburg, sr.
Class 2A First Team
Ben Flowers, Jerseyville, sr.
Jake Schwartz, Waterloo, sr.
Ethan Price, Mascouah, sr
Jacob Plocher, Highland, sr.
Brandon Johnson, Mascoutah, jr.
Casmir Cozzi, Mascoutah, soph.
Adam Robson, Waterloo, jr.
Bryuan Manuel, East St. Louis, jr.
Sam Hurst, Civic Memorial, sr.
Jackson McCalister, Waterloo, fresh.
Cohl Callies, Civic Memorial, jr.
Class 3A First Team
Chris Conrad, O’Fallon, sr.
Andrew O’Keefe, Granite City, soph.
Frankie Romano, Edwardsville, jr.
Joey Black, O’Fallon, sr.
Roland Prenzler, Edwardsville, soph.
Dan Powell, Edwardsville, soph.
Jack Pifer, Edwardsville, fresh.
Will O’Keefe, Granite City, sr.
Brian Gichuru. Belleville West, sr.
Will VanAlstine, O’Fallon, soph.
Matthew Gilster, O’Fallon, jr.
Evan Rathgeb, Alton, sr.
Second Team (All Classes)
Garrett Blenkush, O’Fallon; Lucas Capristrant, O’Fallon; Christopher Crossen, Mascoutah; Kelvin Cummings, Alton Anthony Detmer: Central, Drew Detmer: Wesclin; Blake Hatter, Freeburg, Max Hartmann, Edwardsville; James Henseler: Roxana; Zach Jung, Triad; Arie Macias Alton, Jaxen McNeese: Lebanon; Zach Panek, Belleville East; Deric Patton-Triad, Gabriel Sherrill-Highland; Keegan Spirek: Mater Dei; Brenden Springman, Wood River; Otto Stark, Mater Dei; Cree Stumpf: Roxana; Patrick Thompson-Mascoutah; Zach Walter, Edwardsville; Eli Ward, Waterloo; Zion Ward, O’Fallon; Jaron Willis, Triad; Hayden Ybarra, O’Fallon;
Honorable Mention (All Classes)
Will Brant, (O’Fallon) First Baptist Academy; Christian Cazier, Jerseyville; Chris Crossen, Mascoutah; Matt Dawson-Waterloo; Drew Detmer, Wesclin; Chris Ferguson-Scott, Mascoutah; Joshua Foster, Columbia; Dakota Gregory: Marissa; Noah Hayes, Waterloo; Garrett Headen: Red Bud; Jackson Howell, Belleville East; Brandon Isom, Roxana; Zach Knopf-Triad; David Lunk-Waterloo; Seth Martin, Triad; Kortez Matthews, East St. Louis; Sam McCormick, Edwardsville; Matthew McNicol, Mascoutah; Brylee Portell, Highland; Quinten Tichenal, Belleville East; Jake Roustio, Wood River; Jacob Schoenthal, Edwardsville; Dakota Stumpf: Roxana; Ben Walter-Triad, Johnathon Whitaker, O’Fallon Braeden Williams-Mascoutah Luke Worley, Freeburg