LAKEWOOD - Freshman Taylor James is well on her way to becoming the next great track and field star at Niwot.

On Friday at the state meet at Jefferson County Stadium, James claimed her first state title, using a strong kick down the stretch to win the Class 4A girls 800-meter run in 2 minutes, 13.55 seconds.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I'm really happy I was able to score some points for my team. I had in mind that I wanted to try to win, but I didn't know for sure I was going to get it, so I'm really happy I was able to pull through and get good points for my team."

James usually looks for a kick at the end, but the leaders took off earlier than she expected, around the 400-meter mark. That forced her to push a little earlier, but said, "I'm just happy I had enough at the end."

The victory by James was part of a solid day for the Cougars, who are seeking their fourth state title in the last six years. Through nine of 19 events, Valor Christian leads the team race, with 53 points, and Niwot is second with 45.

Niwot had a second-place finish in the 800-meter relay and a sixth-place finish in the 800 sprint medley relay. Maggie Smith added an eight-place finish in the 800 meters.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or