Nearly a dozen cruised through the opening mile just over five minutes.
A week ago Rangeview's Luke Sundberg found himself chasing Cole Nash in the final half mile at the Thornton Invittational. With each stride he felt his grip on Nash loosening, and in the final 100 meters Sundberg was off the back of the Nash Train, stumbling in for a runner-up finish.
Rankled from the loss, he crashed to the grass and closed his eyes in defeat. He sought anything to turn the lights out on his current reality.
Anyone who has finished second will admit that it's the result that burns the most, because you can taste the sweetness of victory, but not experience it fully. You get one lick on the lollipop, and no more. It's dangling candy in front of a baby, or a plate of hot wings in front of me.
It's a tease.
The sting from Sundberg's runner-up finish lingered throughout the week, but he didn't have to wait long to finally taste to sugary sweetness of victory in its full form. The Rangeview junior used a calculated kick to turn the tables on a stellar field, which included Nash.
From the very opening mile it was clear how this would play out - it was clear this would be one furious kick to the finish.
A pack of nearly a dozen cruised through the opening mile near five minutes. Hesitation loomed in the air as no one wanted to brave the wind alone, knowing that they'd simply provide the competition with a barrier of which to hide behind.
Striking first, while brave, would be very optimistic role of the dice.
The purple-donning Boulder crew surged hard into the final mile, blowing the once tight-knit pack into dribbles of bodies holding on for dear life.
Nash gave chase, along with Sundberg, who hovered over his shoulder. With each stride they came closer to the inevitable kick finish. Like wind-up dolls, they revved their engines and prepared for the final battle.
A pack of four ran within strides of each other heading into the final half mile, but it was Sundberg who held his cards close to the chest.
As they rounded each soft curve he inched further up on his toes, and when the finish was nearly in sight, he struck.
Into the final straightaway with was Sundberg with Duncan Fuehne just off his shoulder. Now it seemed as though Sundberg had gone from predator to prey, but he never relinquished his original title.
He pumped furiously through the final strides until he no longer had a challenging shadow. And when he sensed he had, he took a quick glimpse over his shoulder to insure the race was his.
Finally, he had redemption.
Sundberg crossed in 15:52.09, just ahead of Fuehne's 15:52.51. Behind them, Nash finished third in 15:55, and Gateway's Yonas Mogos dipped under 16, running 15:59.
"I was really wanting it today," Sundberg explained. "After getting out-kicked last week, it got into my head a little."
The win was marked a turn for Sundberg, who has come close to victories twice within his last two outings. Additionally, he was quick to acknowledge the quality of the field.
"This means a lot," he shared. "It gives me a lot of confidence going into state."
The Boulder duo of of Williams and Haug held on to finish fifth and sixth, running 16:02, and 16:04.