Track and field: Peak to Peak distance senior girls embracing last go-around

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Peak to Peak’s Tiana Bradfield, left, crosses the finish line of the 1,600 meter run in first place at the Coyote Warrior Invitational on Saturday at Centaurus High School. Bradfield captured the 800 meter run as well, and Peak to Peak went 1-2-3 in both events.

LAFAYETTE — The seniors who led Peak to Peak’s girls distance team to new heights over the past four years are rounding the final stretch in a legacy that will forever be marked by triumph and sorrow.

Tiana Bradfield took her turn in the lead for the Pumas — winning both the 1,600 and 800 at the Coyote Warrior Invite on Saturday — as teammates Quinn McConnell, the four-time cross country runner of the year, and Anna Shults followed closely behind in each event and took second and third.

“We worked really, really hard all winter,” McConnell said. “We all have really big goals as a team. We’re not taking the early season as getting into it, it’s time to roll. And that’s what we’re doing.”

The three girls, who’ve ran together since elementary school, have helped elevate Peak to Peak into a distance power in cross country and track. After this spring, they’ll continue to run in college but will part ways with McConnell going to Furman, Shults going to CU and Bradfield to Northern Arizona.

In the 1,600, Bradfield ran down McConnell on the final stretch to win in 5:03.99, which was announced as a meet record. And a while later, she added a victory in the 800 at 2:16.98.

“No matter what, we work to build each other up,” Bradfield said. “No matter the order, we’re always working for each other and with each other so we can all do our best.”

For all their success, though, their time at Peak to Peak may be best remembered by what they’ve endured. Pumas runner Brandon Ries died during a 5K race in 2016 and Quinn’s father Ed McConnell died while walking down his street after a run last year due to a heart dysrhythmia.

“We’ve been through a hell of a lot and accomplished a lot,” McConnell said. “I think this season is just to put the cherry on top of the cake really, and just see what we can leave with.”

Brent W. New: and @brentwnew