It's hard not to use the same words when attempting recap the 2019 edition of Nike Cross Nationals, but it was another banner day for Colorado athletes.
Between the Niwot girls shocking the country with a third place finish, and Colorado nabbing three top-10 team finishes (Dakota Ridge Boys - seventh, Valor Christian girls - eighth), and five All-American finishes - Connor Ohlson (5th), Cole Sprout (7th), Dylan Schubert (14th), Cruz Culpepper (20th), and Samrawit Dishon (15th), you could say it was a pretty big weekend in Portland - and that's an understatement.
But the highlight has got to be Niwot.
There was a bit of déjà vu this year, that was for sure.
A year ago they won state, then finished third in a rare off day at NXR-Southwest, had to wait a week to find out they got the final golden ticket - an At-Large Berth to NXN, then went on to shock the country by finishing fifth at Nationals.
This year the story was nearly identical, only they capped it with an even bigger performance.
State title - check, third place in a rare off day at NXR-Southwest - check, wait a week to find out they got an At-Large Berth to Nationals - check, and then this is where the story gets better.
A third-place - podium finish - for the Niwot girls.
Forget finishing third at NXR-Southwest and crossing your fingers with hope that you get selected by a committee to go Nationals - they went on to finish third at Nationals.
Niwot's big finish, along with Colorado's banner day in Portland, are the No. 4 Story of 2019.
Excerpt from: "Colorado Storms NXN At Mudfest 2019"
"For a moment there was confusion.
Girls from various teams were scattered across the finish line area, searching for teammates to huddle with for warmth while waiting for the team results to roll in.
A steamy cloud rose over the area as they began to be shuttled out of the gated finish, and onwards into the chaos of family and friends with cameras for photos, and jackets and umbrellas for the cold and consistent downpour that just seemed so iconic Pacific Northwest that you almost had to appreciate the irony.
And there was mud too.
So much mud in fact that it's unlikely that my Adidas Marathon 10s with the orange laces and teal stripes will find their way into my luggage for my flight back to Colorado, because they are very, very muddy.
Editor's Note: They're also about nine years old...
The seven Niwot girls quietly followed the herd out, though knew to some degree that they'd be shuttled back in, once the results were official.
Mud caked up and down their legs and soaked their spikes in brown hues, like their once-creamy white singlets.
And then the moment came.
Not a "you finished X," it was a "you're in the top three."
The invite back into the area solidified Niwot's place among the best squads in the country, as it was the second time they've tallied a top-10 finish at NXN, out-doing last year's big fifth-place finish.
This time they got to step up onto the podium.
The seven popped on their toes and jumped up and down, even though the race was more than over. This time it was out of sheer excitement - because they knew that regardless of where they finished, it was better than last year.
And, for the second consecutive year, the Niwot girls nabbed an At-Large berth after finishing third at NXR-Southwest, only to go on to Nationals and prove they belong there by finishing even better.
When the results for the Top-three squads rolled out Niwot officially had their third place finish. They tallied 171 points, just 11 behind runner-up Summit (OR), while Saratoga Springs (NY) dominated the team race with 78 points.
And Niwot wasn't the only Colorado squad to crack the top 10.
The Dark Horse of NXN - Valor Christian - capped their season by proving NXR-Southwest was no fluke, they're legit. Valor finished eighth among a field of 22, tallying 242 points.
It was another banner day in Portland for Colorado, as three squads cracked the top-10, and five individuals claimed All-American honors.
READ: Niwot Dominates 4A