When Kaiya Firor made the decision her sophomore year to run track at Hotchkiss High School, she went all in, setting her sights on winning the 400-meter dash.
On Saturday, Firor topped that goal at the Colorado State Track and Field Meet at Jefferson County Stadium, winning the Class 2A 100-meter high hurdles, 300m hurdles and 400m dash.
Her gold-medal performances started in Friday's 800m sprint medley relay. Firor, Adair Ela, Elsie Vasquez, Shay Glaser won gold with a time of 1:50.81. The state win was a first for Ela and for Glaser, and for Vasquez, who ran on the silver-medal medley team with Firor in 2018.
The team was ranked first in state, "But we were still nervous," said Ela, a sophomore and youngest team member.
Glaser was in second place at the final handoff to Firor, who overtook Yuma in the first 100 meters for the win. Glaser, who ran on the bronze-medal medley team with Firor in 2017, played tennis last season. This year she competed in both sports and was happy she did. "I didn't run last year and I regretted it," she said.
The Hotchkiss girls scored 43 points to place fifth in state.
In Saturdays finals, Firor was seeded second after preliminaries in both the 100m high and 300m hurdles. She won her first individual gold in the 100m hurdles, edging out Denver Christian senior Monika Williams by four-100ths of a second. "I hit a couple of hurdles, so I wasn't my best," said Firor.
She was just warming up. In her next race, Firor won her third consecutive state title in the 400-meter dash. Her time of 55.76 seconds reset both the 2013 2A state meet record by two-100ths of a second, and her own school record.
In her final race, Firor won the 300m hurdles in 44.06, also her third gold in the event, resetting the 2000 state meet record of 44.44.
Firor ends her career with eight gold medals, a silver and a bronze. This spring she signed to run track at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison. She also reset school records in the 100m and 200m dash and 300m hurdles along the way.
After breaking the 400m record at the 2A/1A WSL League meet Firor said that all the work she's done has gone toward winning the 400m at state. "I came into high school with a goal to break that record," said Firor. The others, she said, "just kind of happened."
Both the school and state 400m record were set in 2013 by Hotchkiss alumna Jennifer Celis (now Martinez), who also holds the state 2A record in the 800m and 1600m. Martinez is in her senior year running Division I track and cross country for Oklahoma State University. "Out of all the people in 2A, it's amazing that it was another girl from Hotchkiss," said Martinez via Facebook. "If anyone were to break (the record), I'm happy it was her."
Martinez said she knew Firor would be "a very good runner, but she has developed into an incredible runner because 55.7 is so fast. I'm excited to see how well she does at Western." Martinez also credits coaches Kelly Cowan and Curtis Hintz. "Their commitment to tailoring workouts and their understanding of mentally preparing athletes is what makes them so great," she said.
Firor also plays soccer and started competing in high school track her sophomore year. While her season has "mostly been a blur," what stands out in her high school career is "Mostly the fact that I've been able to make improvements on my times throughout high school."