COLORADO SPRINGS — The exclamation between his gritted teeth at the finish line Saturday afternoon was unmistakable for Monarch senior Isaac Green.
The feat of a repeat title at the Class 5A boys state cross country meet was complete, and this time Green didn't have anyone bearing down on him through the stadium run at Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.
But as his teammate, Charlie Perry, would attest to, the team title for the Coyotes was just as important to Green — one of the state's all-time greats in the sport. And with the help of Green in first, Perry placing third and the remaining scorers for MoHi finishing in the top 37, the Coyotes did claim that elusive team title, too.
Green had a quick flashback as he entered the stadium finish, but he ended up quite far ahead of Mountain Vista's Joshua Romine when things were said and done.
"When I got into the stadium, the only thing that was on my mind was last year and Jake (Mitchem, of Broomfield) coming right up on my back," said Green, who ran a course record 15 minutes, 57.3 seconds in the heat of the mid-afternoon sun. "I actually gave a yell for myself when I got into the stadium, because I had to push it as much as I could to get across that line."
"I think he's the best runner in Colorado history, just on another level because of his final kick," Perry, a junior who fulfilled all kinds of potential on the grand stage, said of Green. "But you know the best thing about him is he's an awesome teammate. He'd much rather see us win a team championship than an individual championship, and that's just rare when you have a number one guy. He helped the culture of our team so much."
The Coyotes unseated Mountain Vista by nine points, 88 to 97, to win their first team title on the boys' side. Senior Zach Litoff finished in 16:52.7, junior Isaac Russo placed 25th at 16:56.3, and junior Will Dixon was 37th (17:14.3).
For Green, it was a much different feeling than winning as a junior — simply because everyone was out to get him this time around.
That included Cherokee Trail's Rylan Wallace, who was leading through two miles, and a half-dozen returners who placed in the top 20 last year. The smiles would come for Green as the team lifted its trophy, but the emotion coming across the finish was one of pure determination this time around.
"It's never easy for anyone once the race starts, and it was hard last year going against some of those guys and this year was just as stressful," Green said. "I'm going against my boy Charlie, and he's been doing great all year, and you throw in all those (returners) plus trying to defend, and there was a little bit more stress to it."
Perry's run was special, as well. He had finished second in the Regional last week and continued to excel when it mattered most.
"We planned just to not go out too fast because of the heat, and we saw a lot of kids (in previous races) go out too fast and it burned them," Perry said. "Isaac and I, we kind of sat back and I think all of our guys had that approach."
After finishing fourth last year, Boulder was once again a team to be reckoned with because of their senior experience and finished fifth. All of the Panthers' scorers were seniors, led by Gage Hornung in 18th finish — but the front four (Hornung, Luke Zacharias, Sean Riedel, Sam Primozich) packed in to the first 35 placings to contribute to another solid performance.
Fairview's Greg Lund finished 21st overall with a time of 16:51.1.