Broomfield's Sydney Swanker and Lauren Felknor went 1-2 to elevate their squad to a runner-up finish.
A pack of nearly a dozen girls cruised through the opening mile, with the leaders runner four wide. There were bright red singlets, stark white, deep purple, light blue, and royal blue. With so much on the line, no one wanted to lead, not yet.
While only four schools move on, perhaps the most challenging aspect of 5A Region 3 was that four teams were ranked in the top 10, and three more just on the cusp.
Clearly, this would be no stroll for any squad.
There was No. 4 Fairview, No. 5 Boulder, No. 6 Monarch, No. 9 Broomfield, and then Ralston Valley, Denver East, and Legacy.
The intensity of the moment, which spanned just over 20 minutes, was clear off the course. Coaches, parents, and fans sprinted from one spot to the next, screaming at the top of their lungs as if runners on the course needed a reminder of the importance of this day.
"13...14...15... Fifteen! She's fifteen! Go get her!"
As the pack inched onwards, bodies began to fall from the pace. Moments of weakness crept in and one moment or the next, the high-flying leaders were one step, then two, then three ahead. And then there were only three runners cruising side by side and into the final mile. Two of which donned royal blue singlets with a big bold "B" on the front.
Pre-race favorite, Sydney Swanker, and Broomfield teammate Lauren Felknor ran on each side of Ralston Valley's Elizabeth Schweiker as they toed over the dried fallen leaves beneath a line of trees not yet dead. Their spikes dug into the thick surface though they refused to slow down.
For all three there was much on the line - neither of them were sure if their teams would qualify. Though, Broomfield's chances increased with each stride Felknor and Swanker took. Regardless of where they were in the moment, the duo knew they had to take care of business, and score three points between the two of them to give their squad a chance of qualifying for the Big Dance.
Heading into the final mile Swanker found herself in familiar territory - racing for the win. She had been here before, and had kicked for the win just two weeks ago. Swanker egged her teammate on, knowing they'd need the 1-2 punch. And just like that, the Broomfield duo were on the attack.
Swanker pumped hard and away, bringing along Felknor in her shadow. As they raced down the final straight it was clear they'd nab the three points Broomfield would need to insure a qualifying run.
Swanker took the W with a 19:34, just ahead of Felknor's 19:36. Across blazing across the line the two shared big smiles having gotten the job done. Behind them Schwieker held on for third, finishing in 19:42, and booking her ticket to Colorado Springs.
And then the pencils and pens came out and went into a frenzy.