Cruz Culpepper put on a sprint clinic at the end of Sweepstakes A race.
Cruz Culpepper pumped his tan arms as he sprinted along the bright orange lining that separated spectators from competitors. His black hair, held back by a black Nike sweatband with a white swoosh, drifted from side to side as he inched closer to the finish line. He was running open and free, and soon the turmoil of racing would all be over.
Minutes later his breakfast of a burrito laced with jalapeño resurfaced, and what came in hot wanted to come out the same way. Culpepper emptied his gut on the grass, though the irony of ingesting something with fire lingered.
The Niwot junior had just torched the final 500 meters to claim his second consecutive win of the season, running 15:28, and he did so with ease. The effort, however, brought his bold choice of a breakfast back.
"It probably wasn't the best choice," Culpepper admitted with a chuckle.
Regardless, he got the job done.
After a steady early pace that kept a dozen or so in the lead pack, the tempo began to heat up like the first few seconds of ingesting a jalapeño the closer they got to the finish.
"With 500 to go everyone went," Culpepper explained.
Five who remained in the hunt for the win at the final left turn, nearly 300 meters from the finish. But the race was all Culpepper
"I didn't feel amazing," Culpepper admitted. "I don't race off the front, so I wanted to wait."
And when he struck, he applied the same sort of fire that burned in his belly.
Culpepper cruised away while his chasers struggled to keep him within striking distance. With Culpepper running freely up front the race for second brewed on behind him.
It was Niwot teammate Ares Reading who closed hard to finish second in 15:30. The shocker of the race came from Chaparral's Caleb Ream, who ran a 35-second PR to finish third in 15:31. And then there was Cherry Creek's Parker Wolfe, who is proving with every race that he is the real deal. Wolfe finished fourth in 15:31.4.
Mountain Vista took the team competition with 110 points, just ahead of Albuquerque Academy, who took second with 123 points. Heritage finished third with 136, while Niwot was fourth with 14
And that was just one race.
That's the best word to describe Saturday morning at Liberty Bell. It's not just this year, it's every year. And it's not just the tightly timed races, or the tightly spaced course. It's not just the abundance of high quality competition, or the speed.
It's all of it. Combined.
Chaos or not, Liberty Bell was revealing in many, many ways. And this year was no different. It's a plate too full. The amount of story-lines coming out of this meet alone rival that of State, or so I imagine. There were so many in fact, that it took the better part of an afternoon to decipher what the highlights were. And even then, there's more to write about - and I will - in coming days, because there were too many performances deserving of a spotlight.
So, here are the brightest spots of a highlight...
VIDEOS (more coming)
PHOTOS (more coming)
Next Page: Division 2: Glenwood boys go 1-2, Wheat Ridge's Chamberlin impresses