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Track & field: Niwot has banner first day at Class 4A state meet

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Megan Kelleghan, of Silver Creek, sets a state record in winning the 4A pole vault during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021.

  • Megan Kelleghan, of Silver Creek, sets a state record in winning the 4A pole vault during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Megan Kelleghan, of Silver Creek, sets a state record in winning the 4A pole vault during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Simon Saia, of Niwot, flexes after finishing second in the 4A 3200 meter run during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Zane Bergen, right, goes out and wins the 4A 3200 meter run during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Lucca Fulkerson, of Niwot, wins the 4A 3200 meters during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021.

  • Zane Bergen, of Niwot, wins the 4A 3200 meter relay during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Zane Bergen, left, and Simon Saia, of Niwot, celebrate after their team won the 4A 3200 meter relay during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • The Niwot boys collapse after the 4A 3200 meter run during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • The Niwot 3200 meter relay team at the top of the podium during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Zane Bergen, of Niwot, gets the stick from Curtis Volk, during the 4A 3200 meter relay during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Lucca Fulkerson, of Niwot, wins the 4A 3200 meters during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Kyle Varra, of Centaurus finished second in the 4A pole vault during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Quin Dukes, of Mead, competes in the 4A pole vault during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Lucca Fulkerson, center, of Niwot, Maggie McCleskey, of Centaurus, and Mia Polk , of Niwot, in the 4A 3200 meter run during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Megan Kelleghan, of Silver Creek, sets a state record in winning the 4A pole vault during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Lucca Fulkerson, left, Mia Polk, both of Niwot, and Maggie McCleskey, of Centaurus, in the 4A 3200 meter run during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Taylor James, of Niwot, runs in the 400 meter prelims during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Eddie Kurjak, of Longmont, competes in the 4A long jump during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Tyler Mayer, of Mead, competes in the 4A long jump during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • LAKEWOOD CO - June 24, 2021: Tyrese McClinton-el, of Centaurus, competes in the 4A long jump during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Lucca Fulkerson, of Niwot, runs the first leg of the 4A 3200 meter relay during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Sally Marshall, of Longmont, doing the long jump during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Katie Carroll, of Niwot, in the 4A long jump during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Katie Carroll, of Niwot, in the 4A long jump during the first day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 24, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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LAKEWOOD — Coming into the state track and field championships with the best 3,200-meter time in Class 4A this season, Lucca Fulkerson was projected to win a title.

Fulfilling those expectations produced a wide smile on the face of the Niwot senior.

On Thursday at Jefferson County Stadium, Fulkerson won the first state title of her prep career by placing first in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10 minutes, 34.65 seconds — more than nine seconds better than her previous best.

“It’s definitely just amazing,” she said. “It’s been always on my mind and I’ve just been working really hard to see if I get the chance. Once you’re on the line anything can happen, so you can’t stress about it too much. You just have to go in trusting your training and eat the right breakfast.”

She wasn’t the only Cougar who ate a good breakfast on Thursday.

The defending Class 4A team champion for boys and girls, Niwot took a big step towards repeating the feat.

After her individual win, Fulkerson helped the Cougars win the 3,200-meter relay, as well. And, while she was the Day 1 star on the girls side, it was Zane Bergen playing a lead role for the boys.

Bergen, a junior, won the boys 3,200 meters and then helped the Cougars cruise to the title in the 3,200 relay.

Bergen won the 3,200 in 9:18.78. Teammate Simon Saia was second, in 9:22.09, while Grayden Rauba was fourth, in 9:25.32. After the race, Bergen was more pleased with the 24 team points than his own championship.

“The plan going in was to try to set up the race so that we could score as many team points as possible,” Bergen said. “We’re going for the team championship and we needed to score a decent amount of points in the two-mile to make that happen. Went out really, really slow — a little too slow honestly, but we corrected and then when Simon went, I knew it was go time.

“It’s really, really cool (to win an individual title), but like I said, I just came here to score the most points for the team as possible. I’m happy that we did that today in both events.”

Rauba, Joaquin Herrera and Curtis Volk teamed with Bergen in the 3,200 relay.

In the girls 3,200 relay, Fulkerson teamed with Mia Prok, Stella Vieth and Madison Shults.

Prok was runner-up to Fulkerson in the open 3,200, while Tessa Everett (seventh) and Eva Klingbeil (eighth) also scored for the Cougars.

“I’m so proud of our whole team,” said Fulkerson, who has five top-seven medals in the past two state meets combined. “Everybody deserves it and they work so hard. I’m so glad that they’re my teammates and I get to race with them.

“Everybody has trained so hard, so (the team title) is definitely within grasp. Every day everybody is out there running as hard as they can, especially in the heat right now.”

Kathryn Carroll added an eighth-place finish in the 4A girls long jump for Niwot.

Other notables from Thursday:

  • Longmont’s Eddie Kurjak finished as runner-up in the Class 4A boys long jump, but set a personal record in the process. Kurjak, who was runner-up in 2019, as well, had a leap of 22 feet, 6 inches. He is favored to win the high jump on Friday and triple jump on Saturday.
  • Three athletes from the area finished in the top five of the Class 4A boys pole vault, including Centaurus teammates Kyle Varra and Benji Schatz. Varra was second with a vault of 13 feet, 9 inches, while Schatz was fourth, at 13-3. Mead’s Quin Dukes was fifth at 13-3, but had one more miss than Schatz.
  • While Niwot dominated the boys and girls 3,200 meters, Centaurus made its mark, too. Junior Maggie McCleskey finished third in the girls race, while senior James Overberg was sixth in the boys race. The Warriors also got a third-place finish from Lauren Kidney in the girls pole vault and ran well in the 3,200 relays, with the boys finishing third and the girls in eighth.
  • Longmont had a runner-up finish in the 4A boys 3,200 relay. Also for the Trojans, Sally Marshall was sixth in the 4A girls long jump.
  • Legacy’s Tyson Spradling was runner-up in the Class 5A boys high jump with a season-best leap of 6 feet, 4 inches.
  • Tyler Mayer led the way for Mead on Thursday with a third-place finish in the 4A boys long jump. The Mavericks also placed fifth in the 4A girls 3,200-meter relay, while Greta Richardson was eighth in the girls pole vault.
  • Fairview was sixth in the 5A girls 3,200 relay.
  • The Niwot girls set a Class 4A state meet record in the 800-meter relay prelims, with a time of 1.39.72. The previous record was 1:39.80 by Valor Christian in 2016.
  • Frederick senior Ryan Chacon set school records in the 200-meter (21.93 seconds) and 400-meter (48.42) prelims. He posted the second-best time in both events to get to the finals. He also qualified for the finals in the 100.