Top Stories Of 2018, #3: Colorado's Big Day At NXN

Dakota Ridge shocked the country with a third-place finish at NXN.

Three top-10 finishes among Colorado teams...

Four top-10 finishes among Colorado boys...


You could say December was a pretty festive month for the Colorado distance running community...

Excerpt From Colorado's Big Day Out At NXN

The Boys From The Ridge Deliver

"Dakota Ridge entered the meet ranked No. 4 in the country (and picked No.3) following their win at NXR, but they clearly weren't satisfied. 

After leading through the mile, and in a tight team race by the two mile, The Boys From The Ridge finished third by one point.

Dakota Ridge (Littleton) finished with 115 points, just behind Temecula's 114 points. 

Side Note: Dakota Ridge was a solid 81 points ahead of fourth place, as the top three squads were in a league of their own. 

Austin Vancil and Connor Ohlson were simply impressive in their final race of the season. Vancil capped his high school career with perhaps the best race of his life, finishing 6th in 15:08, while Ohlson, the No. 1 No. 2 runner in the country, was just four seconds back in 15:10 for 10th.

And they were the third and fourth runners from the Centennial State to cross the finish line. 

Rounding out Dakota Ridge's scoring was Jacob White, who finished 56th, Benjamin Piegat, who finished 72nd, and Ben Morrin, who finished 93rd

Capping off Colorado's teams was Mountain Vista, who finished 12th.

While the team race was exciting and decided in the final strides, so was the individual race.

A Race For The Ages

Valor Christian's Cole Sprout and Mountain Vista's Easton Allred were part of arguably the deepest boy's field in NXN history.

And the race lived up to the hype. 

In a stacked race that saw nearly a dozen still in the running for a national title with a mile to go, Allred was the first to show his cards in a surge that nearly blew the field wild open.

With 600 meters to go the race looked down to Sprout, Allred, and pre-race favorite Liam Anderson. Sprout countered Allred's move while Anderson crept over his shoulder. 

With the final double-hill in sight, Anderson pressed hard and for the first time it appeared Sprout had a challenger into the final straightaway. 

The second hill of the double was the decider in this race, with Anderson inching a few feet ahead of Sprout. It was evident that Sprout would be denied a perfect season. 

Anderson added to his precious lead down the straightaway, and Sprout was caught in the final strides by a late-charging Cole Hocker. The Valor Christian junior finished third in 15:02. Just three seconds back Allred crossed in 5th in 15:05.

In another exciting perspective, Colorado returns the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 runners next year, with Sprout, Allred, and Ohlson.

Ares Reading was just outside the Top 10, finished 17th in 15:19, while Dylan Schubert finished 35th in 15:35.

Niwot's Taylor James led the Cinderella squad of 2018 to a 5th place team finish.

Niwot: The 2018 Cinderella Squad

Niwot nabbed the fourth and final At-Larger berth to Nike Cross Nationals, and they made the most of their second-chance by going on to finish 5th at NXN with 219 points.

Yeah, you read that right.

Niwot finished 5th at Nationals despite having to wait a week before the race to find out that they nabbed the fourth and final At-Larger berth to the Big (Big) Show. 

Additionally, they were seven points behind fourth place Manlius, and 12 points behind third place Wayzata. 

Taylor James led the squad with perhaps the best race of her season. The sophomore finished 35th in 17:48. Rounding out their scoring was Samrawit Dishon, who finished 70th, Maggie Smith, who finished 95th,  Eva Klingbeil, who finished 106th, and  Layla Roebke, who finished 131st.

And Niwot wasn't alone in the Top 10. 

Battle Mountain finished 9th with 253 points, while Mountain Vista was just outside the top 10 finishing 14th with 290 points.

Side Note: 46 points separated third from ninth place - it was a tight, tight team race...

Leading Colorado individually was Peak to Peak's Quinn McConnell, who capped her high school career with a 31st place finish, running 17:45.

And while McConnell was running the final cross country race of her high school career, Cherry Creek's Riley Stewart is just getting started. The freshmen was the third Colorado runner to cross the finish line, crossing 37th in 17:55. She'll head to San Diego next week to compete at the Footlocker National Championships."