Mia Prok scanned the vast open space in front of her.
The Niwot freshman cruised over tiny rocks while maintaining what appeared to be an effortless cadence. She poured on the 5:40 mile pace like hot syrup on a steamy batch of homemade pancakes.
With a mile to go in Saturday's Beet Juice Invite at Dakota Ridge, Prok was gone.
And that shouldn't be to much of a surprise - she's done this nearly every time she's toed the line. But what added to jaw-dropping performance was the fact that Prok seemed to easily run away from a stellar field - once again - and crushed a course that resembled the State meet course at Penrose.
She not only soloed from the opening strides all the way through the finish, but she challenged the lead bikers to stay in front of her over this rolling course that burned the heart, legs, and lungs.
When she stopped the clock, it read 17:38.
As impressive as her run was, the Beet Juice Invite held the intensity of a Pre-State Invite - a rarity during this 2020 cross country season where all meets feel like duals.
But toeing the line at this meet were the titans of Colorado cross country.
There were two of the best girl's teams in the county with Valor Christian taking on Niwot - both ranked No. 1 in their classifications. There were the top-two ranked boy's teams in 5A with Mountain Vista and Chaparral, and the top-two ranked boy's teams in 4A with Niwot and Cheyenne Mountain.
Maybe it was the two-decades-old trophies duct-taped with beet juice as the prize that drew such a stellar field...
Add that - for the most part - everyone ran their top squads. Spectators were treated with this delicious batch of homemade cinnamon rolls, coated with sugary icing.
That's the second reference to breakfast... I must be hungry?
Back to the girl's race...
While Prok was up front setting fire to the course, Lucca Fulkerson put together one of her best performances to date.
The Niwot junior sat with the chase pack for nearly a mile before surging off on her own. The move paid off, as she nearly cracked 18 minutes on this challenging course - Fulkerson ran 18:02
Behind Prok and Fulkerson, an incredible team battle was brewing.
Niwot claimed the 1-2, but Valor's pack prevailed on this day.
Whitfield ran 18:25, while Zarrin finished in 18:27, and Wilson in 18:28.
Chatfield freshman Reese Tucker put up a great run of her own in the sea of Valor and Niwot and Mountain Vista runners. Tucker finished sixth in 18:37.
Their top-five finished in the top-11 to tally 35 points. Niwot took second with 46, while Mountain Vista was third with 62.
Next Page: Witt Goes Beast Mode, So Does Niwot