COLORADO SPRINGS — Peak to Peak's Tiana Bradfield blacked out with a kilometer to go. Anna Shults finished second — but it wasn't to all-state teammate Quinn McConnell, who was looking for her third state title.
"We wanted the fairy tale ending today," Pumas coach Kim McConnell said.
This just wasn't it.
McConnell finished third and Peak to Peak's reign on Class 3A ended in tears at the state meet on Saturday morning. The Classical Academy's Kaylee Thompson won with a time of 18 minutes and 19 seconds to lead the Titans to a runaway victory at Norris-Penrose Event Center.
On a makeshift podium inside the stadium, the Titans celebrated with smiles and hugs. Next to them, the Pumas held back tears.
"Things can always go wrong," said senior McConnell, who committed to Furman earlier this week. "Our entire team has been through so much."
And in circumstances far greater and more important than those found in high school sports.
Coach McConnell said her husband and Quinn's father died in January, and the coach's dad died in April. That came after the sudden death of former Peak to Peak runner Brandon Ries, who collapsed in an invitational run two years ago.
The Pumas, in grief, did their best to rally closer together.
"It's been rough," Coach McConnell said. "And this team, and these people were all in the hospital together dealing those deaths. So, we've been through way more than just running and trying to improve as a runner. The resiliency that they have had has been awesome.
"I know they're not happy with second. But in many ways for all six of them to finish seeing (Tiana) —they knew she was getting help. And just to keep their composure and keep doing what they need to do for each other is pretty astounding. I may be as proud of this second as the other firsts."
Shults finished in 18:37, followed by McConnell in 18:43. With Bradfield down, Allison Beasley was next to cross in 19:24. The Pumas finished with 97 points compared to TCA's 34.
"We go out there every day despite the obstacles we've endured," Shults said. "That's all that matters."
Elsewhere, Holy Family finished 13th on the strength of Alyssa Wells' 27th-place finish. Jefferson Academy was 20th.
Next up for Peak to Peak: The Pumas will head to Nike Cross Regionals Southwest in Arizona on Nov. 17.
Brent W. New: , email@example.com and @brentwnew