Michalak Storms To Victory, Niwot Repeats: 4A State Recap

Niwot's Zane Bergen claimed the 4A state title.

While Michalak wasted no time with the subtleties of the girl's race, the boy's race was a very patient chess match from the start. 

A pack of nearly a dozen cruised through the opening mile as everyone with state ambitions held their cards close to the chest. 

The enduring middle mile thinned the contenders down to Erik Le RouxGrahm Tuohy-GaydosZane BergenZack Gacnik, and Jackson Shorten

Heading into the third and final mile the race was on. 

Tuohy-Gaydos went to work as the course dove into winding trail between the trees with 1,000 to go. After throwing multiple surges he had shed everyone except Bergen. 

Despite a modest early pace, Tuohy-Gaydos was scorching the course over the final mile with Bergen hot on his heels. 

The Green Mountain senior was the first to leap across the creek crossing, but Niwot's Bergen had another gear as the two climbed up the double-hill leading into Penrose. 

Every stride amped up the already impressive pace as the two went into Kick-Mode onwards into the stadium.

Tuohy-Gaydos was the first to take the right turn, though Bergen was just a stride back. 

What happened next was the most wild finish of the day.

As the final stretch flattened out, the Niwot junior popped up off his toes and unleashed another gear. Feeling Bergen moving besides him, Tuohy-Gaydos drifted to the right. 

With Bergen shifting gears so fast into the final 50 meters, Tuohy-Gaydos found himself tangling legs as the two were just feet from the orange fence lining the course.

Bergen went crashing to the dirt, while Tuohy-Gaydos was able to hold himself up. 

The Green Mountain senior stumbled a few strides before composing himself. He jogged on across the finish line in what would unofficially be the second-fastest time of the day - a 15:26 clocking. 

Knowing there was a team title on the line, Bergen picked himself up off the dirt and ran onwards across the finish line in second, running 15:29. 

"I knew I had to finish decently well for the team," Bergen said after the race. "So it (finishing) was all about that."

Watch: The Boy's 4A Finish 30:30 Into The Full Replay

As wild as the finish was, the final result wouldn't look the same. 

After several minutes of debating, officials disqualified Tuohy-Gaydos for impeding Bergen's stride. 

Per CHSAA's ruling: "Interfering with another competitor" is grounds for disqualification. 

Tuohy-Gaydos and Bergen made for an incredible race that spanned the entirety of the course. And while Tuohy-Gaydos does not appear in the results due to the DQ, his unofficial 15:26 would've been the second-fastest time of the day. 

Add that Bergen - who was flying into Penrose, still ran 15:29 - a 4A state meet record, also the third-fastest time of the day among all classifications. 

We're' not going to speculate how much faster these two would've run without tangling just meters from the finish, though it's notable that this was an incredible race, despite the outcome. 

Bergen claimed the 4A state title, becoming the second Niwot individual to claim the honors over the past three years. 

"I'm not going to lie, I was crying when I was getting those bandages on," he said. "Tears or sadness turned to joy."

Behind the wild finish the race raged on. 

Mountain View's Jackson Shorten timed his finish perfectly. After trailing the pack by a few meters into the final mile, Shorten kicked hard and was rewarded with a runner-up finish in 15:37. 

Likewise, Zack Gacnik capped his comeback season with a stellar 15:40 clocking to finish third. 

Niwot's Grayden Rauba seemed to know what we'd all find out soon enough - that Niwot was running away with the team title.

Rauba finished fourth in 15:42 - one second ahead of James Overberg's 15:43. Le Roux held on for sixth, running 15:46. 

Niwot's third runner - Curtis Volf - finished seventh, and they capped their scoring soon after, with Joaquin Herrera and Joey Hendershot finishing 14th, and 19th. 

Niwot tallied a staggering 36 points to claim the 4A state title.

For a little perspective on how great of a team performance this was - they averaged 15:55 through the 1-5, and had a 1-5 split of 53 seconds. 

Cheyenne Mountain was a solid runner-up, tallying 63 points, while Centaurus took third with 96.