The Niwot girls and Dakota Ridge boys may have had to wait a week before booking their tickets to Portland for Nike Cross Nationals, but that didn't stop them from juicing that At-Large berth for all that it was worth.
And they weren't the only ones.
St. Charles (IL) finished third at NXR-Midwest before going on to finish fourth at NXN in the boy's team race. Their finish was the second-best by an At-Large team, only behind Niwot.
A year ago Niwot took the same route by finishing third at NXR-Southwest, waiting a week before getting the call, then shocking the field with a fifth-place finish at NXN.
This year the storyline was similar, but slightly more dramatic.
Their third-place, podium finish was perhaps the biggest shocker in the girl's team race, as Niwot headed to Portland ranked No. 17 nationally.
That's third at NXR-Southwest, to third nationally - and the top Southwest team.
The Niwot girls did admit that perhaps the not-knowing lifted pressure off their shoulders at NXN. They came into Portland a little off the radar, which worked out quite well for them in the end.
Uncertainty can be beneficial.
Likewise, the Dakota Ridge boys endured the week-long wait before getting the call up, and they did the most with it by finishing seventh - and second among NXR-Southwest teams.
Of the eight squads that received At-Large berths to NXN, four went on to finish in the top-10, and one - Portland-Jesuit - was just outside, finishing 11th.