Blazing At The Liberty Bell Invitational

With 200 meters to go there was nothing but vast pavement in front of Kaden Levings

The Cheyenne Mountain junior was churning on all eight-cylinders up the hill towards the finish of the Sweepstakes race at the Liberty Bell Invitational in Littleton, Colo. Saturday morning.

On either side stretched a long red fencing that held back screaming fans that measured two-deep. 

But it was all white noise. 

Levings raced on unfazed of everything outside him. Never mind that he was storming to the first big win of his Colorado high school experience since transferring in mid-2020. And never mind that Ty Garrett and Jake Bach were in hot pursuit a few strides back.

But the Cheyenne Mountain junior was eating up precious amounts of ground with each powerful stride, and on this day there would be no denying him. 

Levings kicked up the final hill and all the way through the finish line, officially crossing in the most-agonizing of zeroes - 15:00.00.

His finish with the nail on a barrier wouldn't be the only one of the day, but we'll come back to that...

The time would be a US No. 10 - before any altitude adjustments, and a Colorado No. 1

Behind him Garrett crossed just over a second back in 15:01, and Bach finished third in 15:04. As per the trend with Liberty Bell, all three ran personal bests. Additionally, those are the top-three times run in Colorado this season, and - all three are juniors.

Drew Costelow led a wave of four in, running 15:14. Eric SankeyDalton Kaines, and Jackson Shorten - who was leading into the final 400 - finished in 15:15, 15:16, and 15:17.

WATCH: Boy's Sweepstakes Finish

Cheyenne Mountain - who ran an abbreviated squad Saturday - put three more in the top-10, with Enzo Knapp, Erik Le Roux, and Tyler Nord, running 15:24, 15:24, and 15:28 for a 8-9-10 finish.

Despite an unrivaled top-four, Valor Christian emerged as team champions with the No. 1 fifth-runner of the meet (freshman Kaeden Dendorfer, who ran 15:57.) Additionally, they had a 1-5 split of just 56-seconds. Valor tallied 53 points, which was just ahead of Cheyenne Mountain's 57. Cherokee Trail finished third with 150 points.

(Of additional note, and on the topic of freshmen running insanely fast - Mountain Vista's Benjamin Anderson finished 13th in 15:37.)

Meanwhile, Bethany Michalak ran to the theme of running right up to the barrier.

The Air Academy sophomore stormed to a US No. 1, and CO No. 1 of 17:00.40, which was more than fast enough to kick down a few from the boy's race, which started three-minutes earlier. Additionally, the time was a big personal best for Michalak, who picked up win No. 2 of her season. 

Behind her Emma Stutzman and Brooke Wilson battled up the final paved hill towards the finish. Neither gave an inch until they crossed the line, and when they did, it was Stutzman with the runner-up finish in 17:24.60, and Wilson three-tenths of a second back in 17:24.90.

Keeghan Edwards kept with the theme of running big PRs, as the Valor Christian freshman finished fourth in 17:37.

10 went on to crack the 18-minute barrier. 

WATCH: Girl's Sweepstakes Finish

The heat was definitely an additional challenge Saturday, as it leveled a few athletes. Among them was Cherry Creek's Riley Stewart, who was running stride-for-stride with Michalak into the final quarter-mile. Unfortunately Stewart was unable finish - we wish her a speedy recovery!

The team race played host to some of the best in Colorado - and the country.

Arapahoe came out on top of this star-studded field, tallying 96 points, which was one-agonizing-point ahead of Cherry Creek's 97. Valor Christian took third with 144.

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