The fantastic finish highlighted a solid, if not perfect opening day at state for the Grizzlies, as senior Seena Frantz took third in the girls 3,000 and senior Daniel Cowan missed out on the finals in both the 110 and 300 boys hurdles.

EUGENE — Former teammate and 2008 state champion Matt Miner e-mailed Ashland High junior Wilder Schaaf prior to Friday's state track and field meet. He had one request: break the 3,000-meter Class 5A meet record.

Though that record belonged to Miner, Schaaf was happy to oblige.

Burning through a final gear he wasn't sure existed, Schaaf passed Crater's Zach Elliott with 50 meters to go and held on to become Ashland's second straight 3k state champion at Hayward Field.

The fantastic finish highlighted a solid, if not perfect opening day at state for the Grizzlies, as senior Seena Frantz took third in the girls 3,000 and senior Daniel Cowan missed out on the finals in both the 110 and 300 boys hurdles.

Schaaf crossed the finish line in 8:42.17, about two strides ahead of Elliott (8:42.89), his Southern Sky Conference rival, and a fraction of a second faster than Miner's former record time of 8:42.39.

The final pass capped a thrilling final lap that included three lead changes, an SSC breakaway and a gut-wrenching sprint-off down home stretch. When it was over, Schaaf fell to his knees and gasped for breath, unable to celebrate a jaw-dropping 17-second PR.

"I had nothing left," Schaaf said. "(After the race) I was on my knees for like five minutes straight. I couldn't do anything."

Elliott can relate. The Crater senior started pushing the pace with 800 meters to go, a move that eventually buried third-place finisher Jordan Ringe (8:44.36) of Hermiston. Elliott surged ahead of Schaaf at the start of the bell lap, then again with 300 meters to go. For a moment, it looked like Elliott might be able to pull away and avenge Schaaf's victory in last week's SSC district meet.

"I thought that was it," Elliott said. "(During the last lap) I was thinking, 'Hey, he passed me. If I pass him again, that's gonna be it. He's gonna drop. So I passed him and I'm like, 'I got him now.'"

Except he didn't. Schaaf stayed on Elliott's heels around the final turn, then slowly inched ahead as the crowd roared.

"At the end I thought, I might as well kick, go as hard as I can," Schaaf said.

After that, it was all Schaaf.

"I'm like, 'Damn, I got nothing left,'" Elliott said of the final pass. "This is the best I can do. He just beat me. The better man won today."

Schaaf will try to complete a sweep of the distance runs Saturday in the 1,500, a race he's favored to win. Miner holds the 5A record in that race as well.

In the girls 3,000, Frantz paced the field through the first 1,000 meters and hovered near the front for another 400 meters before eventual winner Kayleigh Tyerman of Crater and runner-up Kellie Foley of Crook County left everybody else in the dust. Tyerman overwhelmed Foley, too, and won in 10:13.86, well ahead of Foley (10:26.58).

Frantz found herself in a stare-down with Summit's Megan Fristoe with 400 meters to go, fell behind by five meters coming out of the final turn, then staged Ashland's second dramatic comeback of the day. She set a personal record (10:30.54), too. Fristoe settled for fourth in 10:32.02.

"I thought about how badly I wanted it, and just focused on beating (Fristoe)," Frantz said.

Frantz entered the meet with visions of a state title, but said attempting to stay with Tyerman and Foley through the last 800 meters would have spelled doom.

"I kept hearing, 'Go with them, go with them,' from my coaches, but I just knew my pace wasn't there," she said. "I knew what my body could do."

Cowan was aiming for a spot in the finals of the 300 hurdles, but knew he needed to run the race of his life to get there. It didn't happen. He finished in 43.40, sixth place in a heat that required a third-place or better finish to qualify for the finals.

Cowan was fifth in his 110 hurdles heat, crossing the finish line in 16.38.