With a mile to go Parker Wolfe eyed the back of Marrietta's (GA) Kamari Miller.
Miller had been leading the race since the opening mile, which he torched just under 4:35. Wolfe held his cards very close to the chest early, but heading into the final minutes of the RunningLane National Cross Country Championships, he put his hand on the table.
The clock ticked over 9:22 as Miller still held on to his lead, but Wolfe began to shift gears.
It was Georgia's 7A State Champions verses Colorado's 5A State Champion - the two largest classifications in each state.
And Wolfe made Colorado proud.
The final mile belonged to the Cherry Creek senior, who headed to Hunstville, Ala. as the pre-race favorite. Wolfe poured on the pace, passing Miller as the two flew by the 4k marker.
While Wolfe had run nearly every race this season from the front and without challengers, one thing he proved Saturday morning was that he knew how to race in a high quality field running a hot pace.
Behind him a field of nearly three dozen were speeding on at Sub-15 pace. But now with less than 1,000-meters of neatly trimmed grass in front of him, Wolfe led them all.
The Cherry Creek senior pumped hard and away, creating space between him and Miller, and the dozens of chasers that followed.
With each stride he seemingly inched ahead, and with a quarter mile to go, he had no shadows. Wolfe raged onwards and into the final straight where the race was his to lose.
The two-time Footlocker Nationals qualifier, and US No. 1 runner entered the final 200 meters ahead of arguably the most competitive field in the country this season.
Wolfe ran on to capture his biggest victory to date - the RunningLane National Cross Country title, running a US No. 1 time of 14:26 - a personal best for him by four seconds. The time demolished the previous course record by 10 seconds.
The course record was Wolfe's third of the season, a season of which he took down Cole Sprout's course records at Liberty Bell, and the State meet.
While Wolfe's victory was impressive, so was Colorado's field in general.
Behind Wolfe, Harrison Witt had the race of his life, so far. The Mountain Vista senior was Colorado's second runner across the line, finishing seventh in 14:39.36. Hot on his heels was 4A state champion Zane Bergen, who finished eighth in 14:39.69.
Boulder's Lukas Haug was Colorado's fourth runner, finishing 12th in 14:44.24, which was just ahead of Cheyenne Mountain's Erik Le Roux, who finished 13th in 14:44.86.
If you're tallying up - Colorado had a staggering five runners in the top-13 - all under 14:45.
And the wave didn't end there.
4A state runner-up Jackson Shorten finished 15th in 14:47, while Niwot's Grayden Rauba finished 25th in 14:53. Mountain Vista's Jayden Nats was Colorado's eighth and final runner to crack 15 minutes, finishing 29th in 14:57. Mountain Vista teammate Owen Nolan came agonizingly close to cracking the mark, running 15:01 to finish 35th.
In the team race Niwot took second behind US No. 5 American Fork, 75-88, while Mountain Vista gave Colorado two of the top-three teams, finishing third with 104 points.
Colorado's girls were just as impressive.
Leading the state was Niwot freshman Mia Prok, who dropped her best performance to date. The 4A state runner-up took second in a PR of 16:56. Likewise, her Niwot teammates Lucca Fulkerson and Madison Shults, saved their best for last. Fulkerson inishing fifth in a PR of 17:16.44, which was an inch or so ahead of Shults, who finished sixth in 17:16.46.
Niwot had the best top-three of any squad, though they wouldn't go on to tally a result, as they didn't have five finishers.
Peak to Peak's Allison Beasley was Colorado's fourth runner, finishing 13th in 17:45, while Mountain Vista's Shayda Zarrin was Colorado's fifth and final Sub-18 runner at the meet, finishing 20th in 17:55.
Zarrin's finish led the US No. 13 Mountain Vista girls to their best team performance of the season. A few girls had their best races of 2020, which elevated Mountain Vista to the RunningLane National Cross Country title. Nina St John finished 30th, Keira Gamily finished 41st, Annie Romalia finished 54th, and Shantell Hafner closed out their scoring, finishing 59th.
Mountain Vista tallied 61 points, beating out Georgia's St. Pius, who tallied 86.