Niwot And Air Academy Are Racing Towards History

Will 2023 be the year that a Colorado squad finally captures a Nike Cross Nationals team title?

For as stellar as the state has been in recent years, a NXN title has eluded quite a few squads. 

Last year the Niwot girls finished second. Air Academy girls finished seventh. 

In 2019 Niwot finished third. 

In 2018 the Dakota Ridge boys finished third. That same year the Niwot girls finished fifth.

In 2017 the Mountain Vista boys and the Battle Mountain girls finished third.

In the first year of NXN - 2004 - Smoky Hill finished second.

There have been plenty of thirds, but second has been the highest any Colorado squad has been on the podium in the 18 years of NXN's existence.  

Could this year be the year a squad from the Centennial State finally climbs all the way to the top?

If the season has told us anything, it's that the answer to the question could be: Yes

What's additionally exciting is the potential for Colorado to go 1-2. 

A state taking the top-two spots has happened rarely in NXN history. New York has been the only state to achieve the feat, with the last time being in 2011.

Since then no state has dominated in the way that Colorado has the potential to this year.

Photo by Tim McDonald

Niwot and Air Academy have swapped the No. 1 and No. 2 spots throughout the season. 

They've raced each other just once - at NXR-Southwest last week. 

That day Niwot took the victory 58-72 over Air Academy. 

If we go back in time to the 2023 State Championships, both squads dropped the top-two performances ever at the state meet, though it was Air Academy was the record-breaking run

In late September Air Academy dominated US No. 3 JSerra Catholic at Desert Twilight by over 70-points. 

This means that on paper, not only does Colorado have a very good chance of claiming the NXN title, but the Centennial State could go 1-2.

It's just a matter of which squad shows up the most on Saturday...