Cole Sprout ran 14:38 to crush the previous course record, and run the fastest time in the country.
All eyes were on the clock.
Even Cole Sprout's.
There were curious glances going back and forth between those big red numerals and the Valor Christian senior, who was pumping his arms hard up the gradual hill. Tiny wrinkles - not of age, but of effort - lined his forehead while his piercing eyes glared at the clock as if he could slow time down through sheer force.
If he wasn't gritting his teeth in the moment, nearly everyone else watching was, because you could feel the battle waging on from within Sprout. Winning alone was not enough. It had to be fast. The effort had to match the time, or vice versa.
The question for the No. 1 ranked runner in the country wasn't so much in winning, or by how much, but how fast.
And when Sprout crossed the finish line the clock ticked on by 14:38...
Now, that's a great time run at sea-level - a year ago that would've been the third fastest time run in the country behind his own 14:32. But Sprout just dropped the fastest time in the country - at 5,466 feet of elevation.
To put this performance into perspective, a year ago Easton Allred ran the fastest time of the day at Liberty Bell, and it was a 15:17, while Sprout tempoed a 15:33. As the story goes, Sprout went on to win NXR-Southwest in 14:39, ahead of Allred's 14:41. Sprout finished third at Nike Cross Nationals, while Allred finished fifth.
You do the math...
As impressive - a word that doesn't fully describe Sprout's run - was, add the fact that nine seconds back was Cherry Creek junior Parker Wolfe.
If you're doing that math - that's a 14:47.
Wolfe clung to Sprout's super-hero cape and reaped the benefits - that's for sure, because his 14:47 is currently No. 2 in the country, and I'll repeat myself when I say it was run at 5,466 feet of elevation. In a state with a handful of national-caliber athletes, Wolfe's run just threw his name into the hat - that' the kind of performance that makes the MileSplit 50...
There had been only one sub-15 clocking at Liberty Bell since 2010, and Saturday morning there were two alone...
And it was almost three, because Kevin Conlon just up and nearly skipped the 15s with a 15:09 third-place finish. Previously the Fort Collins senior had never broken 16.
And before we move on to the purple squad from the north, add that Denver East's Will Daley ran just off his PR in 15:19 to finish fourth - a time that would've been the second fastest of the day a year ago.
All in all eight broke 15:28, and it took a 15:33 to crack the Top 10.
Now, back to those boy's from Fort Collins...
Conlon's run was just a hint at what else we'd see, because the No. 3 squad in 5A went on to win the team title with 153 points. James Gregory was just outside the Top 10, finishing 13th in 15:36
5A No. 4 Rock Canyon took second with 178, while Heritage finished third with 206.
And the boy's weren't the only ones running fast...
Editor's Note: Bare with us while we sift through results - there will be more race recaps coming...
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