RICK GRAEFE / JOURNAL Emmanuel Price of University City took second in the long jump and first in the triple jump at Saturday's Class 3 sectional meet at MICDS.

Rick Graefe

Emmanuel Price was done with the triple jump. OK, done isn’t strong enough. The triple jump was dead to him, D-E-A-D. A dynamic athlete from a track family, the University City senior jumper and hurdler had had it with the triple jump. “I wasn’t getting any better,” Price, 18, says.

Now he’s the best. Price took home the Class 3 triple jump state title last week at Dwight T. Reed Stadium in Jefferson City with a leap of 48 feet and 5 inches. It was his personal record leap by two feet. He also would tack on all-state honors in both the long jump and 300 hurdles. A Hampton University recruit and U. City’s Scholar Athlete for 2012, it was a long, mentally challenging road for Price to claim his spot atop of the podium. Price was a known commodity in the local track scene as a youth. When he arrived at U. City as a freshman, he displayed those immense jumping abilities. It was easy to see the talent, skill and drive that oozed from Price’s every pore. If there was a young athlete destined to stand on the podium with a state medal (or four) hanging around his neck, Price was it.

His freshman year, he made good on that as he finished fifth in the long jump. His sophomore year, however, didn’t go as planned. He was competing at the district meet in the long jump. He landed awkwardly in the sand pit and knew something wasn’t right. His ankle hurt something ugly, but he kept on competing. He would eventually qualify for the sectional meet that was held the following Saturday. On that Monday, however, he had his ankle examined and the doctor told him he’d fractured it. That’s right, Price finished in the top four in an event to advance to the sectional with a broken ankle. His season was done. He had to watch as his teammates won the 2010 Class 3 title without him competing.

Last year, Price didn’t absorb as devastating of an injury but wasn’t healthy. Two meets into his junior season, he tweaked his hamstring. He battled his hamstring all season. He did earn two more medals with a fourth place finish in the long jump and a fifth place finish in the triple jump. But he never felt right.

As U. City began plotting and planning its postseason meet strategy this year, it became apparent they could score big points in the triple jump. With an all-state triple jumper on the team, it was a no-brainer for Price to revive his triple jumping career.

He started off slowly, jumping three days a week to get his rhythm and timing back. As he got back into the groove of jumping, he discovered he could use his fleet feet on the runway to push himself even further. In the past, Price had a hard time harnessing his speed. “I worked in my speed on the runway,” he says.

At the Suburban South Conference meet the week before districts, Price officially returned to the triple jump and won the conference championship. He would place first at both the district and sectional meets in the triple jump while also taking top district honors in the long jump.

For the first time since his freshman year, Price entered the state meet free of injury. He took nothing for granted, though, and literally spent hours warming up before his event. When it finally came time, there was still some drama. Clinton’s Nick Ramirez pushed Price into second place when he jumped 48 feet, 2 inches on his next to last jump. Price, though, unleashed his personal record jump and claimed that elusive championship. “It feels great,” he says. “I told myself I wasn’t leaving without winning the triple jump.”