LAKEWOOD — Anna Shults' state title came early, but it didn't come easy.
Just a freshman, Shults won the Class 3A girls 1,600-meter run with a time of 5 minutes, 8.09 seconds at the Colorado track and field state championships on Saturday. It was a hot day and a talented field, but she got the job done.
"It's pretty hot today but I just had to stay with the pack and push all the way from the start to the end," Shults said. "There were a lot of fast girls in our race so I knew the start would be crucial and I had to get out pretty fast. It's just been an incredible first state meet and I'm so proud of my teammates."
Shults was among friends on the Jefferson County Stadium track Saturday afternoon.
The Pumas had four runners qualify for the 1,600 state race, the most of any school, and all four were freshmen. In fact, Shults' title marked the first race at a state meet, including cross country, that teammate Quinn McConnell entered and didn't win.
McConnell won state cross country in the fall and won the 800-meter title on Friday. She also anchored the Pumas 3,200-meter relay with Shults, Alice Oveson and Chrstina Hamerly that won the title on Thursday.
In the 1,600, McConnell finished second behind Shults with a time of 5:12.37. The Pumas' third freshman Tiana Bradfield finished seventh in 5:22 81 and fourth freshman Elle Triem placed 17th in 5:52.16.
"We have a super strong and such a close-knit team so it's amazing to work with all of them," McConnell said. "Winning as a team in the 4x800 was incredible and winning the 800 yesterday, I knew I'd be happy with whatever happened today. I'm so proud of Anna for getting her individual title, too. We have some pretty big goals for cross country and track next year so these past few days have been a great confidence booster."
McConnell and Shults finished one-two at state cross country in the fall. The girls team finished second at state cross country and third at state track this spring.
Also on Saturday, Pumas senior Tessa Anderson finished runner-up in the shot put, throwing 39 feet, 07 inches in the finals. She placed third last season.
"We just go out there and do the best we can," Bradfield said. "As a team, we really work hard on trying to create a family because when you're close with your teammates, you're bound to work hard and run fast."