AUSTIN — If Elijah Mackey was going to take down the defending state champion, the Melissa senior was going to serve notice that he was the top competition for Levelland’s Isaac Vargas.

Mackey jumped right to the front of the pack and never fell below second place. He pushed Vargas through seven and a half laps and ended up with the silver medal in the Class 4A 3,200 at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Friday afternoon.

His runner-up finish in a time of 9:36.77 was nearly five seconds faster than is Region II winning time that sent him to state for the first time.

“If feels really good to get a medal,” said Mackey, who has signed with Rogers State.

Mackey led for half the race — four laps — which included setting the early pace as well as laps four through six.

“That’s something I normally do,” Mackey said. “I was going to try to see if I could make him feel a little tired.”

He was second to Vargas after the second lap and then second to bronze medalist Erick Arambula of San Elizario after the third lap. Those three were well ahead of the pack and the only thing to decide was the order on the podium.

Mackey and Vargas pulled away from Arambula, who was third in 9:45.08, on the fifth lap. Mackey was a few strides ahead with two laps remaining and then was a couple strides behind Vargas going to the final 400.

Midway through the last lap Vargas began to pull away and won the state title at 9:26.58.

“I like to think I have a pretty good kick too,” Mackey said. “He just took off.”

It is the best showing at the state track meet by a Melissa boys athlete, bettering the bronze by Tom Whitson in the 200 last spring. He will compete in the 1,600 on Saturday night with a chance to add another medal as he and Vargas have the two fastest qualifying times.

“I love to set new records,” Mackey said. “I definitely want to get a gold. I’m going to compete to the best of my ability. Hopefully I’ll be able to get gold.”