Alex Baca took a hard right into the Norris-Penrose Stadium and had the view he's been dreaming of all throughout high school.
A clear path to the finish line.
The Gunnison senior powered over the dirt, into the oddly-empty stadium like he had all three times before over the course of his high school career.
But what added to the moment of racing onwards to a state title was the fact that he was also racing onwards into Gunnison High School history.
When he crossed the finish line some 16:07 after starting the race, his face said it all: Relief.
"This was a long time coming," Baca said after the race. "Four years, and it finally happened."
Indeed it has.
The Gunnison senior was 45th at state as a freshman (a meet of which I covered as the Sports Editor for The Gunnison Times.) Baca went on to finish 14th as a sophomore. And sixth as a junior.
Now he gets to lay claim to the title of the 3A State Champion - a first for Gunnison High.
"This was the perfect conclusion to my high school career," Baca said. "And with all the craziness in the world right now, it's so amazing to see all these people come together, and work so hard to put on a state meet for us. It really means the world to all of us. I'm just grateful."
And to echo Baca's statement about it being the perfect conclusion to his high school career, the race played right into his hands.
The Gunnison senior surged over the difficult-second mile to thin the pack down to two.
Heading into the final mile Baca led freshman-standout Caden Schweer by a stride, while Medina trailed about 30 meters behind.
The gap between Baca and Medina proved crucial, as the cushion gave Baca all the space he'd need to claim the state title.
Over the final mile Baca was able to shed Schweer from his shadow, though Medina wasn't done.
The Alamosa senior, who was third here last year, rallied hard over the final mile to close to gap substantially.
Baca was the first to enter Penrose, though Medina was kicking hard. The Alamosa senior would run out of real estate, however.
Baca raised his arms in victory as he crossed the finish line in 16:07, just two seconds ahead of Medina's 16:09.
Schweer held on for third, running 16:18.
Sylas Chambers gave Frontier Academy an edge in the team race, as he finished sixth.
Frontier Academy successfully defended their state title with a tally of 48 points. The Classical Academy finished as the state runner-ups, tallying 76 points, while Holy Family finished third with 99.
Next Page: Maley Dominates, TCA Prevails