Salpointe Catholic senior Andy Trouard paced down the final stretch of the 3.1-mile Marana High course with a huge lead and had no reason to hurry.
The first-year runner had already secured the Division II, Section II cross country title and was in line to break the course record for the second time this year. But he wanted more.
About 15 meters from the finish, Trouard glanced up at the clock and saw the 15-minute mark approaching, so he gave another push.
Tick, tick, tick.
Trouard crossed the line as the clock struck 14:59 and broke the 15-minute mark for the first time.
"Once I got within 15 meters and I could see it I was so stoked," Trouard said. "I knew I could do it, I just needed to keep my mind in the game and stay mentally strong."
His time, a 14:59.3 to be exact, also makes him one of the favorites for Saturday's state championship meet in Phoenix.
"I'm really excited for state," Trouard said. "I've never run the course but it's always fun to run a new course."
The Lancers finished second as a team by eight points with four runners in the top 25.
Canyon del Oro, the defending state champions, won the event with 91 points, thanks to three Dorados in the top 14.
Senior Andrew Garcia led the way, finishing third in 15:33.8.
"I think we can do it again now that we have the confidence," Garcia said about repeating as champs.
CDO coach Rick Glider says his team can repeat but it will be tougher than last year.
"Kids from other teams have been improving and we're not as strong as we were last year," Glider said. "But the boys have been improving week by week."
The key to Trouard's success at the sectional meet was familiarity. Earlier this month he clocked 15:31.6 at the Rattle Co-ed Invitational, setting a record. But, the former swimmer and track state champion ran off course and was dealing with a tender ankle that time around.
Division III, Section II
Rio Rico won its 15th straight team title and had five runners finish in the top six for a 17-point win.
Senior Robert Contreras led the way in 15:38.1. He was followed by Ben Noriega (15:44.2), Lee Jones (15:46.5), Oscar Amaya (16:12.8) and Braulio Lopez (16:24.0).
"Our main goal was to do good because next week we know we're going to do even better," Contreras said. "We have a tradition of winning here so we'd like to continue it and next week we know what we can do."
Division IV, Section III
Pusch Ridge Christian junior Kyle Cajero won in 16:02.9 while teammates Josh Tvrdy and Wally Hensley finished third and fourth, helping the Lions win the team title.
"I'm excited, but I know there is more work to be done," Cajero said. "This isn't it - that's the hardest thing about sectionals - but our team did really awesome."
St. Augustine Catholic's Zach Alderete finished second (16:24.7) as his team placed sixth behind Tanque Verde to secure the last qualifying spot.