• Evergreen's Sarah Allen leads a pack at the start of the Evergre
  • EHS' Sloan Phillips and Conifer's Audrey Vanwestrienen run the f
  • EHS' Sydney Vanderzee and Annika Rose finished 18th and 19th res
  • Sarah Allen, an Evergreen High School senior, won Saturday's Eve
  • Niya Brandon was the first Conifer runner to cross the finish li
  • Conifer's Niya Brandon closes in on the finish line on the track

Sarah Allen is so focused when she’s running that the Evergreen senior doesn’t hear anything when she’s on the cross country course. Not footsteps. Not people cheering. Nothing. Not that she needed to worry about that on Saturday morning at Evergreen High School.

There weren’t many footsteps to be heard since Allen not only led pretty much from start to finish but won the inaugural Evergreen Epic by more than 35 seconds.

Allen, who has yet to lose in three events this season, ran the EHS course in 19 minutes, 12.1 seconds. Golden’s Lily Mourer was second — just as she was two weeks ago at the Conifer Climb — in 19:47.8. Columbine’s Elizabeth Fender finished third in 20:00.2.

Allen wasn’t sure how she would run Saturday, given a bit of food poisoning left her feeling under the weather before the race. But once she started running, her focus transitioned to taking care of her body.

“I never check my time when I run. That’s how it’s been. I focus more on how I feel during the race,” Allen said. “I focus on my body and more on how far can I push myself. There are a lot of times when I want to stop, but it’s mind over matter.”

The Cougars took third in the team race with 85 points. D’Evelyn won with 40 points, edging out second-place Golden by three points.

Conifer’s top finisher was senior Niya Brandon, who placed 16th in 21:29.10. She knocked more than a minute off of her time in last week’s dual meet with Evergreen, but Brandon is hoping for even more as the season progresses.

“Personally, I hope to beat my PR (personal record) of 20:02 by the end of the season,” Brandon said. “Hopefully, I’ll get in the sub-20s.”

Furthermore, she hopes her team, which is relatively young with just two seniors, will improve on its collective times as well.

“I definitely see us getting a lot faster throughout the season. We’re working really hard in practice with every single one of us pushing it hard.”