The wind was just picking up as the varsity boys race leaned at the starting line. 272 runners stood intently on the line as dark, ominous clouds loomed just to the west. With them, came turbulent winds that affected race plans for nearly everyone.
When the gun shot, a massive pack launched off the line, though none of the pre-race favorites were eager to set the early pace. The first half mile took the field west, running directly into the wind.
Monarch's pack of Coyotes were the first to state their intentions, however, as their top-five littered the front pack through the quarter-mile. Missing from their lineup was senior Charlie Perry.
As the course turned back east, runners welcomed the wind at their backs and the pace picked up drastically.
Chatfield's Drew Johnson had enough of the lollygagging and surged into the lead. Johnson held a small five-meter lead over his chasers through the mile, which they reached in just over five minutes.
A pack of five runners including the Monarch duo of William Dixon and Isaac Russo, Wheat Ridge senior Drew Seidel, Los Alamos freshman Rafael Sanchez, and Lakewood senior Chase Dornbusch, hovered behind Johnson as they entered the middle mile.
Monarch's Dixon and Russo applied pressure just after the mile marker, keeping the hot pace hot as they turned west again, back into the wind.
Johnson jumped onto the back of the lead pack as the race stretched out behind them.
With the wind taking its toll and the final mile ahead of them, the trio of Dornbusch, Dixon, and Johnson separated from the pack. They hit the two mile marker around 10:10, and it was clear the race would come down to one of these three.
While each had ambitions of winning, Dornbusch played his cards close to the chest and sat behind Johnson and Dixon.
"The wind was just incredible," Dornbusch explained. "I knew I'd need to draft when we were running against the wind."
As the trio burned through the final half mile and the course turned east, Dornbusch charged to the lead with the wind at his back.
"I took the final downhill to try to get a gap," Dornbusch said. "It was really close until maybe just that last 400 meters or so."
Behind him, Dixon and Johnson battled to keep pace, but Dornbusch's kick was too much for them.
When Dornbusch reached the final straight, the crowds that lined both sides of the course came to life.
The Lakewood senior crossed the line in a personal record of 15:51 - six seconds ahead of Dixon, who finished second in 15:57, and 10 seconds ahead of Johnson, who finished third in 16:01.
It was Dornbusch's third win of the season, his sixth-consecutive top-three finish, and his first time dipping under 16.
The team race was Monarch's from the beginning, even without front-runner Perry. Led by Dixon and Russo's second and fourth place finishes, the Coyotes rounded out their scoring with Chris Lyders, Reed Henderson, and Sean Gazarik, who finished 23rd, 26th, and 33rd, respectively.
Boulder took the runner-up spot in the team race with 111 points. Monarch and Boulder looked similar through their 3-5 runners, but the decisive difference was Monarch's top-two finishing in the top-four.
Los Alamos took third in the team race on the back on freshman Sanchez, who finished sixth.