Colorado 2A State Cross Country Recap: Favorites Roll

Tyler Ball leapt across the creek and pumped his arms up the first of two grueling hills towards the finish.

The Lyons junior was in full-on Attack Mode. 

While he was leading the final mile of the 2A Colorado State Championships, he knew he wasn't in the clear just yet.

A half-mile earlier he was running stride for stride with Ellicott's Jodzuel Juarez and Crested Butte's Connor Williams. It was a three-man race, and soon to be one.

But Ball was timing this one to perfection. 

He surged hard as the trio ran onwards into the final mile, and sliced the invisible tether that connected them. With each powerful stride the Lyons junior added to his delicate lead. 

He was racing on adrenaline by the time he reached the creek.

"I didn't even feel the hill," Ball admitted. "I had so much adrenaline, because everyone was cheering."

Fueled on the excitement of leading the 2A State Championships into the final quarter-mile, Ball floated up each hill and had the most sought-after experience of anyone racing at State - striding into the Norris-Penrose stadium without a challenging shadow. 

"It was amazing," he explained of the experience. 

Behind him the racing wasn't over. 

Williams caught Juarez on the hill before reaching Penrose, and kicked to a runner-up finish, crossing the line in 16:28, which was five-seconds ahead of Juarez's 16:33.

Heritage Christian's Jack Nauman finished fourth in 16:44, while St. Mary's Dylan Brush was fifth in 16:54.

With Heritage Christian, St. Mary's, and Lyons all having one runner inside the top-five, the team race was on.

Early on it was clear that this one would go down to single digits...

St. Mary's put three in front of everyone else's two with Jackson Neppl and Lyndon Gotelaere finishing 13-14, and Lyons remained in the race with Cole Thomas finishing 15th, though the defending state champs - Heritage Christian - countered with Ryan O'Loughlin and Andrey Kutchma, who finished 17-18. 

Luke Hermsen closed the door for Heritage Christian, finishing 25th - he was the first-fourth runner. 

Heritage Christian's pack prevailed, as they claimed the 2A state title with 54 points. St. Mary's nearly stole the show, however. They tallied 57 points to take second, while Lyons was just three points back with 60 for third.


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