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Track and field: Madison Shults shines for Niwot at state meet

Niwot heads to final day in control of team race for boys and girls

Niwot's Madison Shults (1) wins the ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Niwot’s Madison Shults (1) wins the 4A 800 meters during the second day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 25, 2021.

LAKEWOOD — For years, Madison Shults watched her sister star at the state track and field meet at Jefferson County Stadium.

This weekend, Shults is getting her own opportunity to shine.

On Friday, the Niwot sophomore won a thrilling race in the Class 4A girls 800-meter run, crossing the finish line in 2 minutes, 12.27 seconds.

“It’s super exciting,” said Shults, who also helped Niwot to a win in the 3,200 relay on Thursday. “I’m super excited to be here. It’s an awesome pleasure seeing that we didn’t get it last year, so I’m super happy.”

It was yet another big day for Niwot, which claimed a total of four event state titles Friday — including Zane Bergen in the boys 800 — while maintaining leads in the team races.

The Cougars girls have a dominating 78-30 lead over Battle Mountain through 10 events. There are nine finals to be contested on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Niwot boys lead second-place Longmont, 53-37, through eight of 18 events.

Shults did her part, following in the footsteps of older sister Anna, a 2019 graduate of Peak to Peak. Anna won seven individual or relay state titles during her track career with the Pumas.

Madison is 2-for-2 so far, with races in the 1,600 and 1,600 relay on Saturday.

In the 800, she outlasted Eagle Valley’s Samantha Blair, who had a strong kick to finish second, just nine-tenths of a second behind Shults. Niwot teammates Mia Prok and Lucca Fulkerson were third and fourth, respectively.

“It’s super exciting being a part of a team,” Shults said. “I love running with my teammates. It’s so inspiring. … It’s such a pleasure to have a team and just rely on them and know that they’re going to be there for me when I’m not.”

In addition to Shults’ performance, the Cougars’ girls won the 800 sprint medley relay and 800-meter relay.

Seniors Annabelle Huddle and Geneva-Grace Douillard, junior Stella Vieth and freshman Julia Rudolph teamed up to win the medley relay in a time of 1:46.46, nearly three seconds ahead of second-place Longmont.

“We’ve been practicing all season and we were ready for this,” said Vieth, who ran the anchor leg in the medley. “I just knew that I had to go when I saw (Longmont’s Sally Marshall) pass me, so we were ready.”

In the 800 relay, the Cougars set a Class 4A meet record with a time of 1:39.49. Senior Taylor James ran the anchor leg, while junior Kathryn Carroll and sophomores Margaret Gillett and Kimora Northrup also ran that race.

Bergen, who won the 3,200 meters on Thursday, had a strong finishing kick to win the 800 on Friday, in 1:51.26.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said of winning two titles so far this weekend. “My mind hasn’t caught up to it yet. I know it’s super cool to get those individual titles, but I think it’ll really set in when we get that team trophy.”

The 800-meter run will help the Cougars get there, as Grayden Rauba was third and Curtis Volf eighth. In all, the Cougars got 19 points from that race.

“We just got that much closer (to the team title) and I’m beyond happy to get closer,” Bergen said.

“We went in thinking we’re trying to go 1-2-3 (in the 800). It didn’t work out, but we still scored a bunch of points. I’m really happy about how I raced. I wish I would have went out a little bit faster, but I’m happy I closed in the way I did.”