LYONS, CO - OCT 17, 2019: Longmont High School's Connor McCormick, at right, and Mead's Keegan Caldwell run in the 4A boys race during a CHSAA regional cross-country track meet in 2019 in Lyons. Caldwell got second-place and McCormick placed third. (Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)
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LYONS, CO – OCT 17, 2019: Longmont High School’s Connor McCormick, at right, and Mead’s Keegan Caldwell run in the 4A boys race during a CHSAA regional cross-country track meet in 2019 in Lyons. Caldwell got second-place and McCormick placed third. (Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

Less than the time it takes a sneeze to be sneezed, but probably more than one of the 1,000 of blinks a human will wink out an hour, Erie’s Evan Kraus missed nabbing the school record in both the 1,600 and 3,200 by a deli-slicer thin margin this past track and field season.

Just a junior, of course, there is plenty of time left for Kraus to trim those decimal places. For now, he is working to beat his own Erie 5K record over the next month.

Kraus, among the local breakout runners who have highlighted the first month of the fall, ran a 5K time of 15:41 at the Cherry Creek Steve Lohman Invitational last month to kick off his impressive season.

The mark is the school’s best ever and it came into the week ranking as the 17th-fastest time in the state this season.

“I feel like I’ve definitely improved a little bit as I basically haven’t taken a break since last season,” said Kraus, who finished 15th in the 4A state race last fall. “I’ve been trying to push myself as much as I can to become the best runner I can be.”

So far, Kraus has won two of three invitationals posted on MileSplit, the site for all things high school running.

Along with his school-record win, he won the 4A pre-state meet at Norris Penrose Event Center earlier this month in 16:02.60. His time was nearly eight seconds faster than second-place Jake Bach of Palmer Ridge.

Then last weekend, he took second to 4A defending champ Zane Bergen of Niwot in 16:18.50 at the St. Vrain Cross Country Invitational in Lyons.

“I took a pretty big jump at the beginning of this season and ended up taking an old record set at (Nike Cross Country Regionals) a few years ago by another runner,” Kraus said. “Now I’m chasing after my own record, I guess. And hopefully I can cut it down a little more by the end of the season.”

Kraus’ top-20 time in the state is one of four set by area boys’ runners.

Two come from Longmont. Connor McCormick has the fourth-fastest 5K time in Colorado at 15 minutes and 13 seconds, while teammate Andreas O’Malley is 12th in 15:27.40.

Fairview’s Eric Sankey, meanwhile, has the sixth-fastest time. The 5K school record went by the wayside earlier this week as Sankey crossed in 15:15.20 at Liberty Bell.

In the female division, there’s only one top-20 time by an area runner so far. Legacy’s Mia Mraz has the state’s 14th-fastest mark of the season after she posted an 18:02.10 at Liberty Bell.

Broomfield’s Maelynn Higgins is next in the area at 18.20.90, followed by former Eagles teammate and current Niwot runner Sierra Parks at 18:22.90.

What it all means when comparing times from different runners on different courses while in different stages of their training … is — well, time will tell.

More will be solved at the state’s regional races Oct. 21-23. It culminates at the state meet Oct. 30, which will again be held at Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.

Niwot back in full force

The powerhouse cross country program at Niwot hadn’t flaunted many of its weapons through the first few weeks of the high school season. (A product of its training regimen).

Then the Cougars seemed to hit all at once.

Bergen, who ran a 4:03.90 mile over the summer at The Outdoor Nationals (which was second-best in Eugene, Oregon that day), recently won the St. Vrain Invitational while leading the Cougars past one of the 5A favorites in Mountain Vista.

The girls, meanwhile, were led by a host of runners, including 4A 2020 runner-up Mia Prok. They dominated the female race, showing off a level of depth they’ve never had before, said coach Kelly Christensen.

The girls’ team has won three straight state titles. The boys have won the last two.

Next, Christensen said they head to Arizona to take part in the Desert Twilight.

Mraz by the numbers

The Legacy senior has finished second in four of the five races posted to her MileSplit. Her time of 18:02.10, which is her fourth race inside 18:30 this season, is ranked 99th in the nation.

McCormick’s big wins

The Longmont senior won the D’Evelyn Dash in a personal-best time of 15:13 to start the season, per MileSplit, then went on to win the Division 2 race at Liberty Bell on Sept. 11. He owns the 51st-fastest time in the nation.

Team rankings

MileSplit’s girls team rankings currently have Niwot in fourth, Fairview 13th, Boulder 20th, Broomfield 25th, Legacy 26th, Monarch 30th, Silver Creek 31st and Holy Family 34th.

The boys’ rankings have Fairview in eighth, Niwot ninth, Holy Family 18th, Mead 24th, Boulder 25th, Longmont 28th, Centaurus 37th, Jefferson Academy 38th and Erie 39th.