The crowd anxiously waited in two long lines.
A vast green ocean of thick wet grass separated them, while kids in colorful shirts and parents with phones on the ready took peeks westward, where the bike would lead the winner through this green ocean towards the finish.
Nearly five minutes earlier Thompson Valley's Dylan Schubert and Niwot's Cruz Culpepper were sharing a shadow down and away for the final loop. The last time these two met on the cross country course Schubert made Culpepper chase before getting caught, and Culpepper ran away for a state title. Last spring Schubert went on to claim the 3,200 state title, while Culpepper took the 800 and 1,600. By the looks of it, these two titans of Colorado distance running would produce an exciting finish.
But the crowd would have to wait. And wait. And wait, and then...
A figure off in the distance cruised between pockets of spectators and trees on the course. The crowd near the finish perked up as we'd soon see who would win this battle.
A voice shrieked in excitement as Schubert made the tight right turn and down the long straightaway to the finish. The Thompson Valley senior dashed between the two lines of spectators who cheered while pockets of young fans looked on in awe as their hometown hero sprinted by to victory.
Schubert pounded his chest in excitement as he neared the finish, clearly feeling the wave of love, while sweat glistened off his forehead.
Remnants of the effort.
It would be Schubert's second race of the 2019 season, and his first victory - a Northern League title defense. But the 15:27 win came with the added perk of defeating his friendly rival, Culpepper, for the first time, as the Niwot senior held on to finish second in 15:51 in his season opener.
James Overberg, fresh of his 15:18 performance at Desert Twilight, kicked late, and hard to nearly crack 16, running 16:03 to finish third. Jackson Shorten had a big day of his own. The Mountain View sophomore ran a personal best of 16:09 to finish fourth.
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