4A Girls: Silencing the Skeptics

It's been this way at the front for Los Alamos all season long. Photo by Alan Versaw.

It would be difficult to make a case that the outcome of this race figured to be a big mystery.
And yet, for the faithful of Albuquerque Academy and St. Pius X, there was still good reason to take a large serving of hope into the race. Los Alamos had dominated these two teams in a handful of previous meetings during the season, but never to the point that either should have been tempted to abandon all hope. It was not Dante's Inferno that AA and SPX were setting out to conquer.
But it did become quickly apparent that the outcome of this one would be more similar to than different from the previous outcomes. 
But there were still some pieces of the race puzzle to work out nevertheless. 
After setting the pace early in the race, Santa Teresa's Britani Gonzalez dropped out, leaving the race leadership squarely in the lap of Del Norte's Jenna Thurman. For a while, it appeared as if Thurman would break the will of all pursuit and run away from everyone. That memo, however, never reached Albuquerque Academy's Erin Archibeck. Archibeck kept climbing as the race wore on, eventually taking second in 19:10. Although that still left her eigh seconds back of Thurman, it was not the sort of gap that Thurman had threatened to blow open in the middle stages of the race.
And Arichibeck's finish boded well for AA's team title chances. At least momentarily.
After that moment, and a finish from Marissa Nathe in third with a time of 19:15, there would be no further mystery to the unfolding of this tale.
As they have done all season, the Hilltoppers of Los Alamos came in a wave, as if tethered together by an invisible cord. Jennifer Mooday in fourth, Jordan Parker in fifth, Mikayla Pulliam in seventh, Talia Dreicer in eighth, Teresa Sandoval in tenth, and Madison Foley in 11th. There would be no solving of the Los Alamos riddle on this day.
The elapsed time between the finishes of Mooday and Foley totaled all of 26 seconds. 
And, so, all attention turned to the team race for second. This one did take something of an unexpected turn. 
For the first time all season, the St. Pius X trio of Nathe, Reagan, and Gianinni got separated in a telling sort of way. The absence of a block up front opened a huge door for Albuquerque Academy and the Chargers wasted no time stepping through that door. AA's 2-12-13-17-21 triumphed over the 3-6-19-20-24 of St. Pius X for second. 
And, as most people expected going in, there was barely another team within 100 points of the big three.