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Track and field: Niwot girls run away with another state title

Taylor James, Kimora Northrup lead Cougars to epic Class 4A showing

  • Niwot's Taylor James wins the 4A 200 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Niwot's Taylor James wins the 4A 400 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Lilly Nichols wins the 5A pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Peak to Peak's Aidan Graziano, right, wins the 3A 110 meter hurdles during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Peak to Peak's Aidan Graziano, right, wins the 3A 110 meter hurdles during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer)

  • Peak to Peak's Aidan Graziano wins the 3A 110 meter hurdles during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Rain during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Fairview's Sophie Pierce in the 5A pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Holy Family's Skylar Hawk wins the 3A300 meter hurdles during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Niwot's Taylor James wins the 4A 200 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Rain was the name of the game during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Niwot's Taylor James closes out another relay win during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021.

  • Fairview's Olivia Kosanovich in the 5A pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Frederick's Ryan Chacon wins the 3A 400 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021.

  • Longmont's Eddie Kurjak wins the 4A triple jump during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Niwot's Margaret Gillett, right, hugs Taylor James after setting a relay record in the 4 X 100 during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Niwot's Margaret Gillett, right, hugs Taylor James after the team set a relay record in the 4 X 100 during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Niwot's Julia Rudolph, left, hugs her teammate, Taylor James, after the 400 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Niwot's Katie Carroll jumps in the 4A triple jump during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Longmont's Eddie Kurjak wins the 4A triple jump during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Fairview's Will Chiang in the 5A pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Fairview's Leo Sundstrom in the 5A pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Longmont's Sally Marshall competes in the triple jump during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Monarch's Timo Heine competes in the pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Niwot's Taylor James wins the 4A 400 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Holy Family's Skylar Hawk runs in the 3A 400 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021.

  • Niwot's Kimora Northrup competes in the 100 meter hurdles during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Hallie Williams, of Jefferson Academy, in the 100 meter hurdles during the second day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Fairview's Sophie Pierce in the 5A pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Longmont's Eddie Kurjak wins the 4A triple jump during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Lilly Nichols wins the 5A pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Fairview's Olivia Kosanovich in the 5A pole vault during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Niwot's Zane Bergen (2) wins the 4A 1600 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Niwot's Zane Bergen (2) wins the 4A 1600 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021.

  • Niwot's Lucca Fulkerson, left, finished second to Michalak, of Air Force, in the 1600 meters during the third day of the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jeffco Stadium on June 26, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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LAKEWOOD — It’s not often that a generational talent comes through Colorado sports, not even at Niwot High School.

Despite the Cougars’ utter dominance in track and field over the past few years, few athletes compare to that of senior Taylor James. On Saturday at the Class 4A state track and field championships at Jeffco Stadium, she ended an illustrious three-year career with the Cougars in high fashion with two individual state titles and another on a relay. Also on Friday, the girls 800-meter relay of James, Margaret Gillett, Kimora Northrup and Kathryn Carroll set the 4A meet record at 1 minute, 39.49 seconds, and James ran the anchor leg of that event.

In doing so, she helped the Cougars girls to their second consecutive team state title with 183 points, an astounding 135 points more than second-place Mullen.

“I was so happy to be the anchor leg on this team,” James said. “The girls just did such a good job getting around to me. It was really just easy for me. All I had to do was stick my hand back. They did a great job and I’m very proud of these girls.”

Her junior season last year was stolen by COVID-19, but that ended up working in the Cougars’ favor. Through 18 months of grueling six-day-a-week workouts, the Cougars bonded and formed what turned out to be the most star-studded in school history.

Before James even stepped foot into Jeffco Stadium on Thursday, she boasted six career state titles and a state record in the 800-meter run from the 2019 season.

“I would say it’s probably the best (girls team) ever because we probably had the best preparation leading up to the state meet,” head coach Maurice Henriques said. “We had a year to get ready, but what’s so cool about this team is man, they love each other. They care about it across the board, girls and boys. You look forward to going to practice. Everybody’s humble, and I think it starts with Taylor James being one of the most recognized athletes and still, she’s never asked me, ‘Coach, can I do this? Can I do that?’ That’s special too.”

She added four more crowns to her already impressive resume just on Friday and Saturday as she easily stole the gold in the 400-meter dash by an impressive 1.77 seconds (57.11) but almost got beat out in the 200. Of course, she still found a way to win as she squeaked past Mullen’s Kaleah Ruff by three-tenths of a second (her time was 24.73). The same group as the 800-meter relay capped off its afternoon as they won the title in the 400-meter relay by nine-tenths of a second (48.30).

“I have always loved running ever since I was a little kid, but I never thought it would take me to the places that it has,” James said. “I’m very fortunate to be running at Stanford and I just feel so lucky to be a part of this environment and team. I love running so much. It’s hard to see my life without it now.”

James may be saying goodbye to her Niwot track family to pursue greater accomplishments at Stanford, but the Cougars still have plenty of talent to drive them moving forward. Northrup, a sophomore, won the first individual title of her career while coming tantalizingly close to earning another.

The hurdling phenom hadn’t lost a single final hurdles event in 2021 until Saturday morning when she faltered against Sand Creek’s Jahzara Davis in the 100 hurdles, coming in second by less than a one-tenth of a tick (14.70).

“My start was a little bad,” Northrup said. “Someone twitched next to me and then I thought they were going to call it for us to stand up, but they didn’t. So I was a little shocked that the gun still went off, but the girl who won just had a better race than me.”

She redeemed herself a few hours later when, in the 300 hurdles, she left no doubt. She dominated from start to finish and beat out the second-place runner by 1.46 seconds (43.78). She took comfort in her 300 hurdles performance but won’t soon forget what happened earlier in the day.

“I’m so happy about (the 300). I’m just really glad I came out here and ran sub-44, I guess, because yesterday I ran almost 45 seconds,” Northrup said. “Losing always hurts, and that loss is going to have a special place in my heart, so I can always have a fire underneath me.”

The Cougar ladies saw other podium finishes from Saturday from the 1,600 relay team (first, 3:56.49), Geneva Grace-Douillard (300 hurdles, third, 45.28; 100 hurdles, eighth, 15.99), Margaret Gillett (100 dash, fourth, 12:56), Julia Rudolph (400 dash, sixth, 59.95) and Carroll (triple jump, second, 36 feet, 5.5 inches). The girls ran multiple competitors in the open 1,600 as Lucca Fulkerson (second, 4:55.08), Mia Prok (fourth, 5:00.23), Madison Shults (sixth, 5:03.37) and Tessa Everett (eighth, 5:04.29) all made the podium.