The situation was clearly laid out for the Kapaun Mount Carmel girls track and field team before Friday night's final event in the City League meet at Northwest.
Place fourth or better in the 1600-meter relay and the Crusaders win, while anything less would likely mean Bishop Carroll slipping in for the team title.
The nerves weren't calmed for Kapaun until the final two legs of the race run by Megan Crawford and Monica Hagan that solidified fourth place and the team title. Kapaun finished with 110 points, holding off a late surge that left Carroll with 107 points.
Bishop Carroll and Southeast were head-and-head for most of the night, until the distance races pushed Carroll to the victory with 149 points for the boys team title. Southeast finished with 131.
"As exciting as can be," said Kapaun coach Damien Smithhisler, who has won the girls title in six of his nine years. "It's crazy how all the little things fall in place."
The top athletes did their part for Kapaun, as distance runner Mackenzie Maki scored 24 points and throwers Emily Cook, Katie Zwick, Becca Clark and Hannah Lienhard combined for 38 points.
Where the difference came for the Crusaders was the unexpected third-place finish of Crawford in the 400. She entered the race seeded 10th. Later she clinched the team title with the fastest split on the 1600 relay team.
"I wasn't thinking too much about the pressure," Crawford said. "I just ran my race and do what I do best, the 400. I was just thinking about the team, trying to run the best for the team."
The surprise of the meet came from North sophomore Amber Eichkorn, who upset Maki in both the 800 and 1600 races. In both races Eichkorn stuck on Maki's shoulder for the first half of the race before kicking with 500 meters left for the win.
"I never thought this was possible," Eichkorn said. "(Coach Mike) Pope kept telling me nobody is unbeatable. I took that and made myself work harder so I could be up with her."
Another improbable finish came at the end of the 400 relay between Southeast and Heights. The Falcons led by a comfortable margin entering the final leg, but Southeast's Jamillah Bonner chased down Taylor Chandler at the end, with the race being decided by less than a tenth of a second.
"I don't give up," Bonner said. "I knew if I gave up then we would have came in second and that's not what we want. We wanted to prove we can win with or without Aarian (Tipton)."
After a season of dominance, the Southeast boys weren't able to keep up with the distance points being pumped out by Carroll. The Buffaloes led by six points entering the 3200, but freshman Gage Garcia won the race in a time of 9:54.40 and James Hampton finished fourth to give Carroll an 8-point lead entering the final race.
"This was probably the best race I've ever run," Garcia said. "I went out with a good pace and I just tried to hold it."
Sophomore David Thor won 800 and 1600 with a tremendous kick, providing the punctuation mark of the night with a win in the 1600 relay.
"It was the perfect ending," Thor said.