Vail Christian: Another day; another champ
May 21, 2011
DENVER – The Saints is a good name for athletes of Vail Christian.
Stating the obvious, the school is a parochial one. Names like Eagles (Faith Christian and Valor Christian), the Lights (Denver Lutheran), the Lions (Lutheran Parker and Colorado Springs Christian) and the Saints seem apt for schools with common missions.
But it’s time for a change – Vail Christian School Pole Vaulters.
“That would be a good mascot,” Vail Christian track and field coach Tom Pierson joked.
The Vail Christian Saints/ Pole Vaulters /Charlie Alexanders won their second state title in as many days Saturday at the 1A state meet down in Denver as Gunnar Wilson flew 12 feet, 6 inches for gold.
And just to enforce the concept of the fighting Vail Christian Pole Vaulters, Wilson edged out teammates Mack Cooper (second, 12 feet) and Nigel Johnson (fourth, 11 feet).
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Then again, the Vail Christian Gruber might not be too bad of name either. Junior Ashlyn Gruber added to her medal collection Saturday with silver in the 400 meters, breaking the 60-second mark with a personal record of 59.88, another second in the 200 and a bronze as a part of the 400-meter relay with Kylie Alexander, Micaela McGuckin and Alexis Ellsworth.
The Saints (or whatever their new name might be) ladies finished seventh in the state in 1A with 42 points, while the guys were 11th (29.5). Not bad for a school that was going to be shuttered about a year ago.
“We talked a little bit about that this weekend,” Gruber said. “We’re happy that we’re still open and we still do well at sports at our little school.”
Alexander won the 1A pole vault Friday. This was not a surprise on several levels. Alexander had the top 1A vault coming into the meet. There’s also the fact that she’s a veteran of the sport, and her father, Charlie, is the Western Slope’s pole vault coach.
Wilson is first and foremost a soccer player. He plays varsity for Battle Mountain in the fall because Vail Christian does not offer boys soccer. It does offer girls soccer, and Wilson’s mom, Barbara, just happens to be the coach. (The kid’s got some serious soccer roots.) Gunnar has spent most of his spring playing for the Vail Valley Soccer Club U-17s.
Because of his soccer commitments, Wilson had been to all of five pole-vault practices, and he qualified with a 10-7 at the Battle Mountain Invite two weeks ago.
The meet started at 8 feet and Wilson entered at 9. By the time the bar got to 10-6, Wilson didn’t know how he was going to do.
“Charlie told me not to look at the bar,” Wilson said. “At 10 feet, I’m usually scared, so that worked. At 11 (feet), I thought I was going to be out, but I just kept going.”
And Wilson’s company was looking pretty familiar by this point. Three of the four guys left standing were wearing Vail Christian blue and silver.
“For a while, it seemed like it was just us. We were pushing ourselves,” Wilson said. “It was really cool. It was kind of relief knowing Vail Christian was going to win it.”
It’s even cooler when you win it, which happened when Cooper went out at 12 feet. Wilson cleared 12-6 for good measure.
“I went over to Mack to congratulate him and then my mom showed up and I realized I had won,” Wilson said.
And so Wilson joins a quickly-expanding list of Vail Christian state champions with Jessica Linder (Nordic, 2009), Ian Hamina (Skimeister, 2010) and Kylie Alexander (pole vault, Friday).
La vida Gruber
Meanwhile, Gruber had a pretty decent day. She won three more state medals, having won one on Friday (second in the 800). Combined with two medals from last year’s meet, the junior has six state medals in her collection, and that starts to put her in some stunning company.
Rachel Glandorf (Class of 2005) has seven, and is the standard by which all female athletes at Vail Christian are measured. In fairness to Glandorf, she competed when 2A and 1A were clumped together. In fairness to Gruber, she’s only 3 seconds off Glandorf’s 800 time with a year to go with Vail Christian. However one measures it, Gruber’s in a really good place.
Gruber ran a 60.4 last year at state in the 400. She’s had times of 60.7 and 60.6 this year, and 60 finally fell Saturday with a 59.88 and a silver.
“It feels good. It’s the monkey off my back or whatever that expression is,” Gruber said. “It’s been three years. It feels good to get it accomplished.”
Gruber wasn’t done there. While she specializes in the 400, despite what her other medals say, she can sprint, too. She had a P.R. in the 200 with a 27.07 for silver No. 3 of this meet. And then there was the relay.
This was jitters time because the last time the Saints ran the 400 relay, Ellsworth and Gruber had botched the exchange.
“We got it this time,” Gruber said.
And so Alexander, McGuckin, Ellsworth and Gruber got to go to the medal stand again, this time for bronze.
And don’t forget Kevin Boselli. All he did was finish ninth in the 3,200 and fifth in the mile.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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