Four fast freshmen are forecasting a fast future for District 51 track teams.
Palisade, Central, Fruita Monument and Grand Junction high schools all qualified freshmen athletes for the 2019 state track and field championships.
Together, the four freshmen won six medals in their first trip to the state finals, held last weekend at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood.
Grand Junction's Ky Oday Jr., competing in hyper-competitive Class 5A, raced his way to three state medals.
Fruita Monument's Kristin Cook, also in 5A, finished on the state podium in the 100- and 200-meter sprints.
Palisade's Gabby Horton won her first state medal in the 300-meter hurdles.
Add Central's Tristian Spence to the mix as a freshman state qualifier in the grueling 1,600, an event in which she broke the school record three times this season as a "ninth-grader."
The four, to an individual, said they can't wait to be sophomores at the 2020 state track and field championships.
"I'm going to be back here next year," Oday said at Jeffco Stadium after the podium ceremony for the boys 400-meter dash — he finished fifth in the state finals.
"This makes me want to rank higher next year," Horton said after accepting her sixth-place medal in the girls 300-meter hurdles.
"If I just keep working hard with my coaches pushing me, I can … get back here," Spence said.
She didn't medal among the top nine but finished 16th in the state in Class 5A — as a freshman.
Oday set the medal pace among the valley freshman with his collection of two state relay medals and his fifth-place medal in the 400.
He nearly won his qualifying heat in the 400, then cross the finish line in 49.42 seconds in the final. The winning time was 48.59 by Langston Williams of Eaglecrest.
"The first 300 was fast," Oday said, who was running among the race leaders. "I thought I'd have enough to push through at the end. I (thought) I might have this. Then, my body said, 'Nope.' I tightened up at the end."
Oday also ran on two Grand Junction relay teams that pushed onto the 5A podium at state. He was joined by Austin Hille, Kade Christensen and Colin Morrison as the Tigers finished fourth in the 4x100 and seventh in the 4x200.
"It was a great experience … it was fun," Oday said.
Fruita Monument sprinter Cook, who was a part of two of the fastest girls sprint races ever in Colorado, echoed Oday's assessment.
"I was just trying to be here," Cook said. "Being in the prelims as a freshman is just crazy. And being in the finals … is one of the best moments of my life."
Cook twice stood on the state podium with Arria Minor, one of the premier sprinters in the country. Minor, who tied the state record of 11.31 seconds in the 100 meters last weekend, won 10 individual state medals in her illustrious career. She'll run for the University of Georgia next year.
"It was unreal, but so amazing," Cook said of the opportunity to race against one of Colorado's all-time best sprinters.
Cook won an eighth-place medal in the 200 and a ninth in the 100 — as a freshman.
Another valley medalist, Palisade's Horton, also raced against one of Colorado's best in 4A standout Abby Glynn of Meade, a multiple state champion in multiple events.
Meade won the 300 hurdles in 44.35 with Horton sixth (46.69).
"I was so excited to be here as a freshman," Horton said. "(Finals) were not as good as prelims, though."
Next year, she said, she hopes to finish higher on the podium.
"I think it's amazing that I have the opportunity to do this … just go out and race my best," Central's Spence said after her first race in the state championships.