There were plenty of reasons to head south to Phoenix, Ariz. for NXR Southwest.
One: To run a personal best at lower elevations.
B: To book your ticket for Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore.
Three: Or maybe both.
As with most years, Colorado will be sending its best to Oregon in two weeks...
The two best girl's teams in the country went head-to-head for the first time this season - Air Academy and Niwot toed the line at NXR-Southwest and put on a clinic.
Actually, Colorado's girls in general put on a clinic.
But we'll come back to that...
On the team front Niwot flipped the script from the Colorado State Meet PowerMerge.
Niwot took the overall team title, tallying 58-points to Air Academy's 72. With the 1-2 finish, Niwot and Air Academy earned auto-qualifying spots to NXN.
And they might not be alone.
Finishing third with 107 points was Mountain Vista, which throws them into an At-Large pool. They'll know their fate within the coming week.
Chaparral, Fossil Ridge, and Cherry Creek went 6-7-8 to give the Centennial State six teams inside the top-eight.
And if the team race told us anything, it's that Colorado is just That Good.
Individually, Colorado put seven runners inside the top-10, led by Liberty Common's Isabel Allori, who finished second in 17:01.
Editor's Note: Last year Allori led Colorado, and finished second here.
Allori's finish led a wave of Colorado runners across the finish line, as Niwot's Addison Ritzenhein finished third in 17:03, Air Academy's Bethany Michalak was fourth in 17:05, and Summit's Ella Hagen, was fifth in 17:16.
While Ritzenhein and Michalak were part of auto-qualifying squads, Allori and Hagen's finishes earned individual auto-qualifying spots.
For Hagen, her performance upped last year's run, where she finished just outside qualifying.
Joining Allori, Ritzenhein, Michalak, and Hagen inside the top-10 were Riverdale Ridge's Payton Meineke, who finished eighth, and Mountain Vista's Claire Guiberson and Peyton Adams, who finished ninth, and 10th.
In the boy's race Battle Mountain's Porter Middaugh officially extended his season another two weeks.
Middaugh led Colorado with a fifth-place finish, running 14:54. The performance booked an individual auto-qualifying spot, and he might be joined by teammate Will Brunner, who finished seventh in 15:03.
Brunner's run put him in a unique spot.
Five individuals - not part of a qualifying team - qualify. The top-two teams automatically qualify, while the third and fourth-place teams go into at At-Large pool.
Only one runner in front of Brunner was part of an automatic qualifying team, while another runner in front of him was part of the third-place squad.
This means if they (third-place Riverton) get an At-Large berth, Brunner qualifies for NXN as well. Or - he could earn one of the five at-large individual berths
And Brunner isn't the only one who'll be waiting for the committee to decide...
The 4A state champions - Niwot - finished fourth, throwing them into an At-Large pool that will be decided in the coming week.
Doing the math here...
Colorado will officially be sending two girl's teams to the starting line of Nike Cross Nationals - Niwot and Air Academy...
Two girls (individually) - Allori and Hagen...
One boy (individually) - Middaugh...
And potentially two more teams, and one individual - the Mountain Vista girls, the Niwot boys, and Brunner...
So, that's 17 athletes officially (excluding alternates), with the potential of 32...
See you in Portland!