LAKEWOOD — After Niwot senior Kimora Northrup crossed the finish line to end her 300-meter hurdles race at Jeffco Stadium on Saturday, she immediately went over to the fence to hug her coaches and teammates.
Finally, she could say she was a state champion in both the 300 and 100 hurdles races. She even hit personal records in both, which had been evading her for the past two years.
“I’ve never won both at the same time. Sophomore year, I won the threes, not the hundreds. Last year, I won the hundreds, not the threes. It’s super nice to go out winning both,” Northrup said. “This year, I just wanted to give it my all. I lost the threes last year, so there’s been a little fire under my butt the whole season. I just really did this one for me.”
Northrup ended her 100 hurdles race in 14.43 seconds and capped her day off with a 43.05 in the 300 hurdles. She edged out Northfield’s Justice Ephrim, just barely, in both races for the golds. The acme of Northrup’s high school career came after one of her most difficult seasons “mentally, emotionally and physically.”
“Something wasn’t clicking,” she said. “Every time I got healthy, I got sick again, and my knees screwed up a little bit. It was kind of like every time I got up, something beat me back down.”
Those two golds played just a small role in Niwot girls’ fourth straight team title, which was all but locked in by the time the afternoon rolled around on Saturday. Once again, the Cougars dominated the Class 4A division with 164 points to beat out second-place Mesa Ridge by 87.
On Saturday alone, the Cougar girls also enjoyed a state title from Madison Shults, who won the 400 at 55.76. In that same race, Simocea Esquibel and Julia Rudolph placed sixth and seventh, respectively, with times of 58.67 and 59.39.
The day before, Shults raked in the state crown in the 800 and Jade West won the shot put, not to mention all of the titles the Cougars won on Thursday to start off the meet. Addison Ritzenhein claimed the 3,200-meter run gold as both the girls and boys 3,200 relay teams secured their own titles.
The ladies’ 400-meter relay team sprinted their way to fourth (49.36) on Saturday, then the 1,600-meter relay team ended the day with another state championship and a time of 3:52.76.
The ladies also showed out in the 1,600-meter run, paced by Ritzenhein’s third-place finish (4 minutes, 58.04 seconds), Olivia Alessandrini’s fourth (4:59.07), Mia Prok’s sixth (5:02.56) and Avalon Beltran’s ninth (5:07.54). Ashlenn Baca secured sixth in the 300 hurdles (46.08).
Boys miss out on team title by a hair
While the Niwot girls left little doubt they’d win the team title from the moment the state meet began, the 4A boys took their team standings all the way down to the wire.
Although the Cougars managed to pull out a win in the 1,600-meter relay — the last race of the day for the classification — with a final time of 3:20.71, it wasn’t enough to edge out Lutheran. The Lions won the team crown with 67 points, followed by Northfield at 66 and Niwot at 65.
Senior Eric Walker, who served as the third leg of that relay, felt a mix of emotions after his quartet repeated as state champions in the event.
“Coming in as the third seed, we didn’t know if we’d get it done but we all just brought it and finally got it,” Walker said, representing teammates Abraham Menjivar, Ben Classen and Rocco Culpepper. “It sucks that we couldn’t get the team title, but we did everything we could.”
Walker, for his part, capped off a banner day that saw him also take home the crown in the 300 hurdles. That 38.52-second time handed him his first — and only — individual gold of his high school career. A year earlier, he finished sixth in both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles. This year, he also placed fourth in the 100 hurdles (14.50) and eighth in the triple jump (43 feet, 1.25 inches)
“I just didn’t want to lose,” he said.
Niwot’s boys also earned podium finishes from Classen in the 400 (third, 48.40) and in the 200 (fourth, 21.78), and Culpepper in the 1,600 (fourth, 4:16.13).