Stephanie Hurd, Emily Mortensen, Charlotte Steele and Laurel Mortensen, the fab-four relayers of Moffat County, shared two heartfelt embraces during Saturday's state meet at Lakewood's Jefferson County Stadium.
The first embrace, after winning the 4x800-meter relay, produced the bittersweet tears of earning a state title, but no state record.
The second came after the last race of the day, a fifth-place finish in the 4x400, and the realization that the girls were no longer a team.
"At first, we were disappointed that we didn't finish better since we needed at least a third place to put the whole team in second," Hurd said after the 4x400 relay. "After that we were just sad that we weren't going to be running with each other any more."
Moffat County walked away with third-place honors at the state meet, with Mullen taking the title.
Third place is an improvement for the girls, who finished fourth last year and fifth in 1999.
The premier event for the Lady Bulldogs was the 4x800 relay team's run at the state record. The team set the record on the first day of last year's state meet, only to have the record broken the next day by Class 5A, Highlands Ranch.
The team defended its 4A title this year, with a time of 9:29.53, despite coming up eight seconds short of the state record, and three seconds short of their best time.
Falling short of the state record was due to the lack of competition that the relay team had. They easily won the race by more than 100 meters.
"We wanted it so bad. There's no feeling like coming back to defend a title," Mortensen said. "We just didn't have a team there to push us to a state record we were running against the clock almost the whole time."
The 4x800 was not the only relay to walk away with top honors in Lakewood, the 4x200 relay team of Brandi Babin, Lauarel Mortensen, Heather Urbanoski and Jill Adamek edged out Rifle by a half second in an extremely close race.
The 4x200 team credited its success to the ability to bond over the season, and continually push each other.
The 4x100 relay team of Ashlee Hafey, Adamek, Babin and Urbanoski put in the only other top showing for Moffat County relays, pulling in a fourth place.
The Lady 'Dogs also placed in three individual events.
Emily Mortensen pulled in a third in the 800-meter run, with a surprise upset coming at the hands of Pueblo Centennial's Jenna Bimbi. Bimbi upset three-time state champion Natalie Hughes of Palisade in both the 800 and 1,600 run.
Steele took fifth place in the 800.
Adamek was just edged out of taking the state title in the 100 sprint, losing to Ashley Owens of Colorado Springs Liberty, who finished just .05 ahead of her.
Though the senior sprinter didn't take top honors this year, she did show an incredible improvement from last year's state meet, where she finished ninth, and was half a second slower.
"I just trained a lot harder over the last year," she said. "I wanted to place before I graduated, and I put the work into doing it."
Only sending four boys to state meant Moffat County wouldn't take top honors, but it didn't stop them from placing.
Mullen won the team championship with its fourth title in five years.
Colton Grinolds, Tim Bailey, Drew Morris and Jarrod Burns led the 4x800-meter relay team to the state meet looking to prove a point, and with a eighth-place finish, they did.
"Nobody thought that we'd even make it to state, so I think we've proved something," Bailey said. "We were excited to run at state, and we ran excellent."
The relay team put together an incredible late-season rally to make it to state, shaving off two seconds from its best time of the year, earnd during the last two weeks of the regular season.
"The guys were pumped about state, and were set on placing," Coach Gary Tague said. "They really put the work into achieving that goal and it paid off, each boy ran his fastest 800 of the year in the race."
The 4x800 relay team's time of 8:17.74 is the second-fastest in Moffat County High School history.
Along with the eighth place in the 4x800, Jarrod Burns walked away with a sixth in the 3,200, and the third-fastest time in Moffat County history.
That time puts Burns in good company, only one spot away from world-class runner, former Bulldog Clint Wells.
The race was a technical one, according to Burns, with the leader going out at a fast pace and keeping the race close the entire way.
"Jarrod ran an intelligent race," Tague said. "A lot of times a kid will go into state excited and run a stupid race. Jarrod, on the other hand, was excited for state, but listened to the coaches, and went into the race prepared."