Squalicum junior Chais Sugden didn't know it at the time, but when he slapped his No. 3 lane sticker on his back, he put it on upside down.
That's quite all right, because Sugden went out and turned the rest of the field in the Class 2A boys' 800 meters on its head.
Sugden surged to the front from the start and never relinquished the lead on Saturday, May 31, at Mount Tahoma High School, winning with a time of 1 minute, 54.53 seconds.
"It really hasn't set in yet," Sugden said. "It feels like any other race, but here we are, a state champion."
Sugden certainly didn't just run any other race.
In fact, he didn't even run the race he was expecting to run.
"I always like to go out quick," Sugden said. "Today I knew that these guys were the best in the state, so I really tried to take it as fast as I could. My original plan was to stick to the top three, but when I got out there in the lead, I just decided I got to hold this, and that's what I did."
Sugden maintained a lead of about 5 yards through most of the first 700 meters, but coming down the final straight-away, Spokane East Valley's Casey Pedersen suddenly began to mount a challenge.
With about 50 meters to go, it didn't look like Sugden was going to have enough left in the tank to hold him off.
"I just knew it would be pretty bad to be passed at the end, and I knew I would feel terrible, so I just give it all the rest I had and finish it," Sugden said.
And finish it he did, holding off Pedersen by four tenths of a second.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.