Cole Sprout took the 90-degree left turn around the wooden post and glanced over his shoulder, measuring the damage he had just inflicted upon the field.
When his eyes caught a glimpse of his nearest chaser, Dakota Ridge's Connor Ohlson, who was cruising along nearly 10 seconds back, Sprout's glazed over face relaxed. He turned his gaze back towards the landscape in front of him, which was a vibrant grassy green runway to the finish where spectators lined the way.
The Valor Christian senior took his victory strides onward, having just torched the Vista Nation XC 2 Mile field, which included one other of the nation's best (besides himself) in Ohlson, along with a slew of Colorado stars who were clearly eager to back on the course.
The bright red numerals ticked onwards as he cruised by the finish line with ease. 9:53 - the fastest clocking on the course yet, and only the second time someone has broken 10. Ohlson was nine seconds back and just over the coveted 10 minute marker in 10:02.
Like everyone on the course Friday, the Vista Nation XC 2 Mile was the first test of the season. A gauge of summer miles and workouts. And Sprout, who's got his eyes set on a national title in December, just passed his first test.
Nearly 1,000 meters earlier Sprout surged hard up the double-hill just beyond the finish with two shadows: Ohlson and Mountain Vista's Harrison Witt. The move was decisive, and it worked to perfection.
While the sight of Sprout and Ohlson leading the field was somewhat expected, Witt was clearly having a great day of his own, and he wasn't the only one.
Ben Morrin was hovering just a few strides back heading into the final 1,000 meters of the race, though took advantage of his remaining real estate. Morrin used a late charge to surge by Witt in the final 400 meters of the race to finish third in 10:12, just ahead of Witt's 10:16.
As what was expected, the team race came with asterisks all over the place, as nearly every squad didn't run at full strength.
Like every other team, Mountain Vista didn't line up a full roster, but even with an abbreviated squad they claimed an impressive victory, pumping four in the top 13, and all five scoring runners in the top 17.
Mountain Vista tallied 51 points to beat rival Dakota Ridge's 82. Rock Canyon was third with 115, which was just six points ahead of Valor's 121.
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