LAKEWOOD — Winning three straight Class 4A team championships from 2013 to 2015 is hardly a distant memory for the Niwot girls track and field team.
But after finishing third last season, the Cougars are anxious to get back on top of their classification. To that end, they got off to a roaring start on the first day of the state championship meet, scoring 40 points on Saturday to enter Sunday's final day with a one-point lead on Air Academy in the team scoring.
"It has been a great start, for sure," Mary Gillett said. "We come here with one goal in mind, to win a state title, and that's what we're going to execute tomorrow."
Gillett certainly did her part in contributing to the Cougars' team score.
Not only did she win the 200-meter dash in a personal-best time of 24.83 seconds, she took second in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 2.5 inches. It was also teammate Alexis Carroll who beat out Gillett for the long jump title, jumping 18-5 on her final jump to claim first to make sure the Cougars walked out of that particular event having amassed 18 team points.
Valor Christian ended the first day in third place with 34 points and Green Mountain is currently fourth with 26 points.
"Valor, Green Mountain and Air Academy will be tough," Niwot head coach Maurice Henriques said. "But we did what we needed to do today. I thought we could score 40 and we scored 40. I think we put ourselves in position going into tomorrow with three girls who have been running consistently all year and ready to go out and compete for a team title. But, it's going to be a dogfight.
"Our girls going one-two in the long jump was huge and Mary winning the 200 and running that time was good. We still have a lot to go tomorrow but we're off to a good start."
Cougars junior Mackenzie Fidelak placed third in the 300 hurdles with a time of 43.17 and the Cougars girls finished fifth in the 800-meter relay with a time of 1:42.36.
While the Cougars did not score any points on the boys side, they were thrilled to field a larger group of athletes after qualifying just on athlete last season.
"I'm excited," Henriques said. "They even said they were nervous but they competed today, which is good to see because it's been a while on the boys side for us. We had a PR in the four-by-eight and that's a great way to end the season."