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  • David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer

    Peak to Peak freshman Quinn McConnell is all alone at the finish line during the Class 3A state championship at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs on Saturday. McConnell won the state title with a time of 18:41.10.

  • David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer

    eak to Peak's Anna Shults, right, runs past Estes Park's Lily Tomasula-Martin at the finish line for second place during the 3A state cross country championships Saturday at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Peak to Peak’s Quinn McConnell took to a new stage on Saturday morning with a good friend right next to her — a scene that may play out over and over for the next three years.

There’s something special going for the Pumas, that’s for sure.

McConnell and fellow freshman Anna Schults made the most out of their first appearance at the CHSAA state cross country championships, taking the top two places in the Class 3A girls race in dramatic fashion to help a formidable Pumas squad come within earshot of a team title with several young runners in tow.

To call McConnell a sensation isn’t hyperbole, and she backed it up on Saturday by winning the 3A title in 18 minutes, 41.10 seconds — the seventh best time among all the girls that ran the course.

But right there was Schults, just nine seconds behind and a first-timer who had an extra kick at the end to edge Estes Park’s Lily Tomsula-Martin for second place.

Schults’ all-out effort made for one of the more interesting finishes of the day, and McConnell couldn’t have been more excited for her.

“We were really competitive in middle school, but this year we’ve come together as part of a close-knit team,” said McConnell, who won the state middle school title last year. “We’ve been so close in races and in training, we just work together and all the stuff between us is pretty much gone. I’m lucky to have her.”

McConnell would have placed third in the 4A girls race, one that includes nationally ranked Katie Rainsberger of Air Academy and her other-wordly time of 17:38.97.

She was ready for everything, including the feeling of being the first to round the corner into the stadium.

“It was amazing, and I had fun working with Anna during the race,” McConnell said. “I wanted this all year, but you just never really truly think it possible until it happens.”

Schults had nothing but the team’s standing on her mind as she overtook Martin in the final 10 meters. The Pumas (56 points) ended up just six points behind Salida for the team championship.

Peak to Peak has two other freshmen (Tiana Bradfield, Elle Triem) and a junior (Rachael Metzler) who will keep them knocking on the door if not blowing it open next year.

“I just knew every single person you pass in a race counts for your team, and I knew we all needed each other,” Schults said. “There was just a power that came from knowing there is love within our team, and that I have a team.”

Adam Dunivan: dunivana@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/AdamDunivan24