Craig Hayden's lone female freshman jumper said she joined the track team in March to improve her agility in fall and winter sports.
Her most recent performance proves otherwise.
Kayla Kostur let her competition and coaches know Saturday that she has gotten much more than conditioning from track practice.
The freshman led the way for the Tigers with first-place finishes in the high and triple jumps at the Clint Wells Invitational Meet in Craig.
Kostur also qualified for the State Track Meet in Pueblo with a high jump of 5 feet.
The regional meet in Grand Junction next weekend gives her one more opportunity to qualify in the long and triple jumps.
Kostur admitted she surprised herself by besting the performances of older and more experienced jumpers.
"I was really pleased," she said.
Hard work and determination paid big dividends for many of his athletes Saturday, Hayden coach Kevin Kleckler said.
He applauded Kostur's effort and focus during track practice.
"She is an incredible athlete," Kleckler said.
An early qualification should take some of the pressure off Kostur when she competes in Grand Junction, he said.
The need for a qualifying time next weekend will be on the mind of Steamboat's Ian Ramsey, whose Saturday mile time of 4 minutes, 38 seconds missed state qualifying standards by three seconds.
The Sailor took home a third-place finish in the 1,600-meter race thanks to his competitive drive.
Ramsey stayed in hot pursuit of two brothers from Glenwood Springs for most of the race.
Their fast pace forced him to quicken his own pace so he wouldn't fall behind.
"If those two boys hadn't been pushing me like they did, I don't think I would have run it as fast," Ramsey said.
Even if athletes do not meet qualifying standards at the regional meet, they can still qualify if they finish in the top 3.
The Craig meet drew teams from 17 high schools.
The number of talented athletes who traveled to Craig kept local athletes on their toes, Steamboat's Jessica Flores said.
The senior placed third in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.5 seconds.
Hayden's Kristin Brown and Soroco's Jessie deGanahl followed closely behind with fifth- and sixth-place finishes.
Flores shares Ramsey's determination to represent Steamboat Springs at the state meet.
She missed qualifying for the state meet last year at the regional meet by one place. She is determined not to let it happen twice.
"I'm going to make it this year," Flores said.
A close third to the region's top two hurdlers from Grand Junction and Rifle gives her confidence she can come out on top next weekend, she said.
Flores said she intends to work this week on improving her start so she doesn't need to make up so much time near the end of the race.
Teammate Lennae Jenkins likewise has her sights set on qualifying for a race she could have run at the state meet last year.
Jenkins doesn't want another fourth-place finish at the regional meet.
An Eagle Valley runner barely edged out the Sailor for first place in the 400-meter race at the Craig meet.
Soroco's Tara Allen, despite an injury, jumped to a third- and a fourth-place finish in the long and triple jumps.
Such efforts pleased Soroco coach Kate Hayne, who said she enjoyed watching her athletes' progression from the beginning of the season to the time when they begin to peak.
The Clint Wells Invitational includes larger schools but gives 2A and 3A schools the chance to compete against each other in a sort of sub-tournament.
The Hayden Tigers took top spots in the boys 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays.
The Sailors did not participate in relays because of the absence of so many athletes.
SAT testing, injuries, illness and the prom prevented much of the team from competing in a majority of the events.
"That's just how it goes," Sailors coach Andy Reust said.
Several area teams placed in the top 10.
For the girls, Hayden took fifth with 46 points, Soroco took ninth with 24 points and Steamboat Springs' 24 points earned the team 10th place.
The Hayden boys took seventh place with 32 points and the Sailor boys took 10th with 17 points.
Rifle High School won both the girls and boys competitions.