LAKEWOOD - Cheyenne Mountain sprinter Michaela Moore went from a sinking feeling to the highest spot on the state podium.
"Heartbreaking," she said, to the "best feeling ever."
A stunned and shaken Moore left the track distraught after she was disqualified in the 4A 100 meters on the final day of the state track and field meet Sunday. When she returned 90 minutes later, though, she refused to leave without gold.
The Indians senior took the baton in the anchor leg of the 4x100 relay and rallied her team from third to first.
Following a few anxious moments - waiting to see if their time would stand up against the previous heat - Moore and her teammates were finally able to let out a collective celebratory scream and a few tears of joy as their time of 49.05 seconds read first on the scoreboard at Jeffco Stadium.
The victory had liberated Moore as well as the Indians' relay, which had been DQ'd a year ago at state for dropping the baton.
"I knew right when I gave it to (Moore) she got it," third-leg junior Claire Ross said. "Once she gets it there is no stopping her."
For Moore, her first state title came in her very last event in high school.
"All I've wanted is a state championship," said Moore, who will run at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. "I've been waiting three years for it."
As for the 90 minutes between the 100 and 400 relay? "I just had to wait. It took a while."
Earlier in the day, the sound of a second gun stopped the 100 to remove Moore for prematurely jumping out of her blocks.
Without the event's top seed (12.27), Air Academy's Olivia Whitaker won the event in 12.24.
"That was like the fourth or fifth time something bad had happened to us," said Cheyenne Mountain sprints coach Matt Thompson, who looked at the DQ as more tough luck for a team that had been beset by untimely injuries.
"We've been dealing with adversity ever since the start of the meet and even before the meet, so we had to get one last chance in to win again. We knew we had a chance."
And around the track they went.
Ashlyn Ventimiglia to Mary McCowen to Ross, who was running on an injured ankle she'd suffered in soccer. The three girls then watched as their leader powered through the finish line.
Dread had turned into triumph.
"We won," Moore said. "It was the best feeling ever."
Air Academy finished second (49.49) despite running in the slower heat.
Harrison was third (49.54), Widefield fourth (49.79), Pine Creek fifth (49.91) and Palmer Ridge took sixth (49.95).