The Niwot track & field team put on a show at this year’s Class 4A state championships, and now the Niwot runners have been showing off across the country. From the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville to the Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, the Cougars have been going up against the nation’s best and often coming out on top.
Music City Distance Carnival, Nashville
Two weeks after she won a second straight state title in the 800-meter run, Niwot sophomore Taylor James posted a personal best of 2 minutes 5.83 seconds in the distance to take the crown in the Music City Distance Carnival, a small but elite meet held at Vanderbilt on May 31. In the boys race, Niwot’s Jack Kenkel also set a new personal mark (1:53.80) and took third overall.
There was some drama in the boys mile, as Niwot junior Cruz Culpepper finished a close second to Colorado 5A state champion Cole Sprout, with both runners beating the top time in the country. Sprout took first with a time of 4:04.19, more than three seconds faster than the previous mark, and Culpepper was on his heels at 4:04.82.
Great Southwest Classic, Albuquerque
There was a familiar face on top of the podium of an unfamiliar event at the Great Southwest Classic, a regional track meet held at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, June 6-8. Niwot’s Layla Roebke dominated the girls 2,000m steeplechase field, winning with a time of 7:16.61, more than 30 seconds faster than the second place finisher.
Elsewhere at the GSW, Roebke finished third in the girls 1600m with a time of 5:16.44, about nine seconds behind teammate Lucca Fulkerson, who took second (5:07.65). Elise Gillett competed in the girls heptathlon, taking 5th in the 100m hurdles, 16th in the shot put, and 18th in javelin. For the Niwot boys, Nolan Johan finished among the top-30 in both the 110m and 300m hurdles.
New Balance Nationals, NC
On June 14th, a phalanx of Niwot athletes traveled traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina to complete in the New Balance Nationals, a prestigious invitation-only meet featuring top competitors from around the country. Several Cougars made a splash, primary among them Samrawit Dishon, who took first in the emerging elite girls mile with a season-best time of 4:53.18, She also led Niwot to a win in the distance medley relay, which includes 1,200m, 400m, 800m, and 1,600m legs, for a total distance of 4,000 meters.
Roebke knocked eight seconds from her steeplechase time from the week before, but finished 15th overall in the 2,000m event, thanks to a more experienced and competitive field in Greensboro. She also took 30th in the two-mile run, another season best.
Jack Kenkel represented the Niwot boys, finishing 30th and 35th, respectively in the 800m and one-mile runs.
Brooks PR Invitational, Seattle
While their teammates competed in the low country, James and Culpepper headed west for the Brooks PR Invitational, a highly selective meet held this year at the University of Washington. There, James took third overall in the 800m, with a time of 2:06.48.
Culpepper didn’t get a rematch with Sprout, who competed in the 2-mile at Brooks, but he did get another top 10 finish. With a time of 4:06.05, he took fourth overall in the one-mile.