Ella Johns shifted into predator mode, even though she had nothing to chase but her own ambitions.
The Fort Collins freshman was barely off the starting line when she attacked the field of nearly 200 competitors at the Wolverine XC Invitational in Greeley Friday afternoon. Johns clearly had no intentions of chasing anyone, as she was out quick, but with good reason.
Fossil Ridge's Lena Fogarty entered the meet with an 18:28 clocking from the Liberty Bell Sweepstakes A race, where Johns ran 18:30 in the D1 race. While on paper this looked like it would be a two-runner battle to the line, Johns preferred a solo run.
The freshman had opened up a substantial lead by the mile, running through the white noise of cheers from a packed sideline throughout the spectator friendly course. The gap remained of oceanic proportions through the second mile before Fogarty went to work.
But onwards into the final mile real estate values were spiking, as Johns remained off the front in her own world, leaving Fogarty little room to chase. Each stride brought the race closer to that finish line, and the intensity Johns brought to the opening mile remained - she intended not to be caught.
Johns entered the final straight, which was nearly a quarter-mile long, without a challenging shadow. Fogarty clawed just 10 seconds back, but the finish line was now in sight, and Johns wouldn't be caught on this day.
The freshmen leaned into the final 100, pumping her arms while onlookers captured the entire scene on their phones. After one runner-up finish, and two third-place finishes, Johns finally had the first victory of her high school career.
Johns ran 18:52 for a nine-second victory, as Fogarty closed the once-sizable gap down to finish second in 19:02. While Fogarty didn't get an individual win, her finish led a wave of green and black across the line.
They dominated the team race, tallying just 32 points. Loveland took a solid second with 65 points with Cadence Lapp and Emma Deason finishing fourth and fifth, while Northridge finished third with 126 points.
Next Page: A Fossil Ridge Sweep