With 75 meters left in Friday’s girls’ 400-meter race in the Central Coast Section Track and Field Championships at Gilroy High School, the look on Madeline Price’s face said it all.
Gritting her teeth and her eyes bulging, the Menlo School junior had just taken the lead coming off the final turn. However, Piedmont Hills’ Ellisa Bryant was hot on Price’s trail, and for one fleeting moment it looked as if Price was going to get caught.
Not this time.
Price motored to the finish in a personal-best 54.78 seconds, besting Bryant’s 55.01. In winning her first-ever individual section title, Price went under 55 seconds for the first time in a career that only seems to get more promising with each passing year.
“That right there was all Maddy,” Menlo School co-track and field coach Jorge Chen said. “Did you see the look on her face? You can’t coach that type of determination.”
Indeed, what Price has done in just one year — she placed third in last year’s 400 CCS race — has been nothing short of remarkable. Forty minutes after winning the 400, Price set another personal record (PR), this time in the 200. She blazed to the finish in 24.30 seconds, making it two PRs and two CCS titles in two races. All in all, not a bad day.
“I could not have dreamed of a better day than this,” said Price, who enters Friday’s CIF State Track and Field Meet in Clovis with the third-best time in the 400. “I’m really looking forward to state to see what I can do there. The plan was to peak for state, and it looks like we’re right on track.”
Instead of being the hunted as she was in the 400, Price played the role of hunter in the 200. That’s because the 5-foot-10 Price got off to a slow start out of the blocks, putting her in a rather precarious position. In between races, Chen said he would know in the first 75 meters whether or not Price could win, meaning a slow start would all but doom Price’s chances of capturing the 200.
“Shows you how much I know,” Chen said.
Price found another gear on the home stretch, passing Seaside’s Javla Scholis with about 65 meters to the finish line.
“Luckily, I was close enough where I could catch her at the end,” Price said.
Luck has had nothing to do with Price’s success on the track. Simply put, Price showed she was destined to become an accomplished track star a month before she entered high school, when she ran a 57.94 in the 400 to place 10th in her age group in the USA track and field junior championships.
Price credits a number of people for her success, but three stand out: Her dad, Shawn, Menlo School speed specialist Mark Mueller and Chen. Mueller and Chen have helped develop Price’s speed and strength, while Shawn has always provided her daughter with motivation.
“You’ve done all the work,” Shawn Price told her daughter in a text message. “Just trust in your training and pull the trigger.”
When the starting gun went off for the 200 and 400, there was no doubt Price had pulled the trigger.