4A state cross country: Niwot's Zane Bergen, Air Academy's Bethany Michalak win titles

Zane Bergen Niwot boys cross country

More photos from the race. (Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

COLORADO SPRINGS – The end of the Class 4A boys cross country race was the talk of the course on Saturday morning.

In the final stretch as they approached the finish, Niwot's Zane Bergen and Green Mountain's Grahm Tuohy-Gados were in close pursuit of one another. Roughly 50 feet from the finish, the two got tangled up and Bergen fell to the ground before regaining his feet and finishing.

So while Tuohy-Gados crossed first, with Bergen just behind, Tuohy-Gados was disqualified for impeding a runner. It meant Bergen won the state title.

Even though he fell, Bergen’s time of 15 minutes, 19.5 seconds still set the 4A course record, which was previously held by former Niwot teammate Cruz Culpepper.

“It was a pretty physical race the whole way,” Bergen said. “I knew I had a shot to catch him when we were coming into the stadium. I got cut off when I tried to pass him and got tangled up and I fell. But I just knew I had to get up and finish the race for the team.”

Paced by Bergen’s late-race efforts, the Niwot boys won the team championship with a score of 36 and well ahead of runner-up Cheyenne Mountain.

Niwot cross country team champions

More photos from the race. (Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

In fact, the Cougars took home both the 4A boys and girls team trophies for the second year in a row. For the Niwot girls, it was their third straight year winning the team title. This time, it was a freshman, Mia Prok, who led the way with a runner-up finish and a time of 18:02.4 that helped the Cougars beat Battle Mountain by 38 points with a team score of 55.

Ahead of Prok’s impressive freshman debut was an even more impressive finish by Air Academy freshman Bethany Michalak. Leading the Kadets to a third-place team placing, Michalak won the girls 4A race with a time of 17:59.1.

“It was an incredibly hard race today,” Michalak said. “It was really hot and there wasn’t a ton of shade but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Me and Mia have raced against each other in club a lot, so I knew she was a really amazing runner and a great competitor. With her and Samantha Blair (Eagle Valley), I knew there was going some great competition.

"I’m glad I was able to win.”

Niwot cross country team champions

More photos from the race. (Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)