Boulder freshman Stella Vieth kicked hard for the win Saturday morning.
With a half-mile to go Boulder's Stella Vieth ran in Elizabeth Schweiker's shadow. Vieth's tight blonde ponytail swayed from side to side as her eyes were glazed over in concentration, focusing on the ground soon be to covered. She was running her second 5k race ever, or more simply put, she was was running in uncharted territory.
The Boulder freshmen's thin resume before Saturday morning included a 19:31 personal best from the week before at the St. Vrain Invite where she finished fifth. But she was about to add a few golden stars to spice it up at the Rock Canyon XC Invitational.
Vieth and Schweiker ran free from their chasers nearly half a minute behind. As they inched toward the line Vieth slowly moved from Schweiker's shadow and prepared to strike. The duo ran side by side as they passed the finish line once more, leading them into the final 500 meters.
Off beyond the hill, beyond the site of spectators, Vieth attacked. What was once a steady 6:30 pace was blasted to sub 6. Vieth flew around the final corner, gently leaning right and into the final straight. She cruised over the green grass, toeing off with appeared ease.
She hadn't won a high school race before, but she wasn't resting on tradition or history, she was racing to win. As she neared the line she took one last glance over her shoulder to insure the victory was hers.
And it was.
Vieth kicked to a 19:19 win - her first of the season, while Schweiker held on for a 19:26 runner-up finish.
"I had a plan, but not to win," Vieth admitted. "I was going to try to stay with the front runners."
But as freshmen - the most dangerous runners on the course each fall - tend to find out, there's always another gear, as Vieth quickly realized.
And she wasn't the only one.
As the story unfolded Saturday morning, it became evident that kicking was the way to winning.
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