Colorado Year In Review: US No. 2 Niwot Wins RunningLane

On the topic of best-teams-ever: Niwot

It was a wild year in Colorado amongst the teams.

Insane, perhaps.

Three Colorado squads capped the cross country season ranked in the Top-7 nationally, with Niwot landing US No. 2, Arapahoe US No. 4, and Cherry Creek US No. 7. 

In the numbers, Colorado was the toughest, most competitive state in the country. That's not an opinion, it's a fact.

So when we dive into the numbers more, Niwot emerges all the more impressive. 

They were perhaps the most interchangeable squad, with an incredible amount of depth. 

Their 4A state-winning squad of Eva KlingbeilMia ProkBella NelsonStella ViethSarah PerkinsMadison Shults, and Tessa Everett tallied a record low of 20 points. 

They put all five-scoring runners in the top-nine, led by state champion Kingbeil, and all seven in the top-16.

Niwot averaged 18:30.08 and had a 1-5 split of 47 seconds, which topped the State Meet PowerMerge.

For historical comparison - last year's 5A state champs - Cherry Creek - averaged 18:30.82. Niwot's 2019 squad, who finished third at NXN, averaged 18:47 (without Lucca Fulkerson, who would run on their nationals squad.) Battle Mountain's 2017 squad, who finished third at NXN, averaged 18:46 at State that year, and Mountain Vista's 2017 squad, that finished sixth at NXN, averaged 18:41.

While looking at State gives Niwot a slight edge in terms of the "Best Ever" category, they only strengthened their case several weeks later at the 2021 Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships.

Niwot faced US No. 3 Buchanan, US No. 4 Arapahoe, US No. 6 York, and US No. 7 Cherry Creek, among the many top-ranked squads to lineup in Alabama. 

In other words: it was a battle amongst the best teams in the country.

And it was a battle that Niwot came out on top of. 

Referring back to the comment about Niwot being interchangeable, Shults - who was their No. 6 runner at State, was their second runner on this day. 

Their lineup of Klingbeil, Shults, Nelson, Vieth, Sierra Parks, Prok, and Perkins averaged a jaw-dropping 17:22 - that's the fastest 1-5 average in over a decade. They had five under 17:42, and all seven under 18 minutes.

Add that they had a 1-5 split of 56-seconds to win the meet by nearly 30 points.

In addition to their many dominating victories, Niwot can easily claim to have the fastest-seven runners in the country - they own a 17:12 average from the 2021 season.

For the second time within this Colorado Year In Review series (and not the last...) I'll write: it truly was a historic year...