Kaylee Thompson and The Classical Academy ran away with Saturday's state titles.
Kaylee Thompson eyed the back of Quinn McConnell two miles into Saturday's State Championship. Thompson's red hair shimmered under the bright Colorado sun as her eyebrows were tight in focus. While The Classical Academy senior was chasing six-seconds behind the defending state champion, she was running into new territory.
Thompson entered the state meet on the wave of three consecutive wins. She'd crossed the finish line first four times this season, and tallied one runner-up finish. But now she was striding towards her biggest race yet.
Ahead of her, McConnell was running off a hot early pace. The Peak to Peak senior was vying to defend her title, though Thompson was in hot pursuit.
As the two ran into the final mile, Thompson went into predator-mode and stalked her prey with each stride. Soon she found herself running even, then passing McConnell. Thompson wasn't thinking about the gravity of her performance, not yet, she running in the moment.
Even as she ran free from McConnell, Thompson remained on the attack, knowing that the race wouldn't be over until she crossed the line. She had some of the best runners in 3A history chasing her, and she was not about to let anyone back into the race after she had worked so hard to lead it.
Inside the stadium at the Norris Penrose Center everyone waited in anticipation. Though what happened next was a surprise, perhaps even to TCA coach, Alan Versaw.
Thompson turned right and sent shock-waves throughout the stadium. Fans erupted in cheers as the first big upset of the day was underway. She finished 10th at State last year, and came into the day with an 18:27 personal best, but she saved her best for last.
With an empty space in front of her, Thompson kicked hard into the stadium as the crowd cheered her on, her red ponytail swayed back and forth. She didn't slow until the moment had passed, until she had crossed the finish line as the State Champion, in 18:19
So far the script seemed slightly altered, but the girls in burgundy weren't done.
Behind Thompson, Anna Shults and McConnell, last year's runner-up, and state champ, came in 2-3 for the defending state champion Peak to Peak, and highly favored squad. Shults finished runner-up once again in 18:37, while McConnell held on for an 18:43 finish. Rachel Ingram made a big jump, going from 8th last year, to fourth this year, running 18:50.
And then the script began to rewrite entirely...