Ethan Epstein can call himself a champion.
When it finally sinks in, that is.
The Myrtle Beach distance runner took home gold at the Class AAA state championship meet Saturday at Spring Valley, finishing first in the 3,200-meter dash with a time of 9:44.95 to cap his high school career.
“It feels really good. It’s something I’ve worked for ever since I started running in eighth grade,” Epstein said. “To be honest, it still hasn’t really set in yet. I’m just really happy.”
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He has every right to be.
Epstein was out front for the majority of the race Saturday and ended up edging Dreher senior Theo Kahler by just 4.5 seconds to earn the title and was 48.76 seconds shy of the state record set by Wren’s Ernie Shepherd in 1984.
Epstein was just one of two Seahawks representatives at the state meet as junior Christopher Weston finished eighth (6-0) in the high jump.
And it was the first and only state title Epstein has won, which makes it that much sweeter for the Myrtle Beach senior.
“It means a lot to me bringing this home for Myrtle Beach and to close my career as a champion. It’s really nice,” Epstein said.
Epstein credits a lot of his development to Seahawks coach Ryan Caputo, who pushed him to fulfill his goals from the very beginning.
“Coach Caputo helped me tremendously,” Epstein said. “He’s a really good guy and hopefully he sticks around with the program; he’ll definitely help them a lot and he’s just a really good coach.”
When talking about the future of Myrtle Beach running, one name sticks out in Epstein’s mind.
That’s eighth-grader Tyler Flannelly.
Flannelly was right behind Epstein in many cross country and track and field events this year, and the rising freshman even beat Epstein head-to-head in one event during the regular season. Epstein said if Flannelly continues on his current track, he may surpass some of his own accomplishments.
“I think the program is only going to get better. Tyler Flannelly is bouncing around between a couple of different sports, but if he sticks with running – he’ll break every record I have and win more championships than me. So the future is bright.”