All the pre-race favorites were there.
A mile into the 3A Colorado State Championships and it was clear that this would be a race.
Or so it looked at the time.
"I knew I needed to set a fast pace early on," Edwards explained. "I could use the hills to my advantage."
And so the The Classical Academy sophomore went to work.
Edwards took to the undulating terrain like a surgeon, meticulously removing any advantages his competitors had on him.
By two miles he had created a gap from Gullett and Ilyasova.
Edwards raced onwards into the final mile, eyes hidden behind his sunglasses. The gap grew with each stride, and soon the TCA sophomore was running well within his own race.
When Edwards turned right into Penrose without a challenging shadow, the crowd roared to life for the Colorado Springs local.
As the TCA sophomore neared the finish line, and his first state title, he spread his arms wide as if to absorb ever last slither of the moment, and his face drifted back and up, eyeing the blue Colorado sky above.
"I was dreaming of this," Edwards shared after the race.
Edwards claimed the 3A state title in dominating fashion - running 15:34, which was just one-agonizing second off the 3A meet record.
44-second later Gullett came sprinting in with Ilyasova six-seconds behind him. Gullett took the runner-up finish in 16:18, while Ilyasova was third in 16:24.
Chandler Wilburn kicked in to finish fourth in 16:28, giving TCA two in the top-four. Caden Schweer finished three-seconds later in 16:31, which was just ahead of Branden Davis, who finished sixth in 16:33, and Salida's Elijah Wilcox, who finished seventh in 16:37.
Wilcox's finish launched what would be a tight team race between TCA and Salida.
Casey Golden gave a big advantage by being the third TCA runner in the top-10, though Salida countered with Ezekiel Wilcox and Kuper Banghart who finished 12-13. Ryan Flaherty tilted the advantage back to TCA by finishing 16th, though Salida battled back with Hollister Beddingfield and Izayah Baxter, who finished 17-18.
While Salida had five in before TCA, Will Moore quickly closed the door for TCA, finishing 19th.
TCA's 1-2 punch of Edwards and Wilburn looked to be the deciding factor in the team race, as TCA came away with the 3A state title, tallying 37 points. Salida was a close second with 48, while Frontier Academy was third with 85.
Next Page: Katelyn Maley repeats, TCA defends their title