Alexander, Constien shine on Day 1
DENVER – Personal record, school record, state-meet record and a state title.
That’s a pretty good way to wrap what has turned into a stellar high school career for Vail Christian’s Kylie Alexander. The senior won the 1A pole-vault state title for the second year in row Thursday during Day 1 of the state meet down in Denver.
“It’s great. I’m so excited I went over (10 feet, 3 inches),” Alexander said. “I don’t have words for it. I’m so excited.”
Alexander is the first athlete from Eagle County to go back-to-back at a state meet since Eagle Valley’s Brad Gamble did so in the 300-meter hurdles in 2004-05, and he is elite company.
Alexander ends up with four state medals in pole vault -she was seventh and third in her freshman and sophomore years, and that’s just the spring. Alexander likely has overtaken Rachel McCoy (nee Glandorf) as the school’s best female athlete to date (at least until teammate Ashlyn Gruber starts her state meet today).
All kidding aside, Alexander’s been the setter for two state volleyball teams in the fall, and has all-league awards galore there. In the winter she’s been all-league in basketball, helping the Saints come within a game of the state tournament. (If you’re familiar with Vail Christian history, this might be the most remarkable feat of all.)
However one looks at it, it’s been a tremendous run for Alexander.
So did her pole-vaulting coach, aka Dad, Charlie Alexander see this coming?
“She’s my first child. I didn’t know what to expect,” Charlie joked.
Charlie promptly credited her coaches in other sports – Cathy Alexander, aka Mom, in volleyball and Doug Bruce, who somehow is not related to the Alexanders, in basketball.
Kylie Alexander entered the state meet as the prohibitive favorite, but she had to get over a mental hurdle Thursday. She no-heighted at the league meet last week and that was playing on her a bit.
“It was stuck in the back of my mind,” she said. “I didn’t want to no-height. That would be a terrible way to end the season.”
The meet started at 5 feet. Alexander can high jump that. Kylie wanted to start at 9 feet. Her coach said 8-6 and that won the day. Alexander cleared 8-6 and 9 and was on her way.
Merino’s Malia Michel didn’t make 9-6, and Alexander did, clinching the state crown. What really gave Alexander a thrill was clearing 10-3 at state and taking a shot at 10-9.
“I’ll get that next year,” said Alexander, who will be attending Concordia Irvine University in California this fall.
Alexander’s height of 10-3 is new state-meet record, and she received a certificate stating that she, in fact, had broken the meet record previously held by … Kylie Alexander (8-9).
“This one is for the valley and all the vaulters in the valley,” Charlie Alexander said. “I had Jerry (Phillips, Eagle Valley’s vaulting coach) and (Eagle Valley head coach) Jeff Shroll with me. We jumped on a Battle Mountain pole and we had an Eagle Valley pole as well. This was a fun one for the valley.”
V is for Val
Most of the talk this year in the triple jump locally has been about Eagle Valley’s Michelle Carbajal. And with good reason.
She was the top-ranked jumper in the event going into state. Carbajal continued to perform wonderfully, finishing fifth with a 35-2.
But the surprise of the day was Battle Mountain’s Val Constien, flying into third with a 36-3.75. Constien also anchored the Huskies 3,200 relay to ninth and it was a great day for the sophomore.
“I think I’d been training for it for a long time,” Constien said. “I think I was usually a little tired (during the regular season) because I usually compete in the triple after doing the 4-by-8 or the open (800).”
With the state meet spread out over three days and the 3,200 relay after the triple jump, Constien was fresh and it showed.
“I was really happy with my jump,” Constien said.
And the 3,200 was humming nicely for Battle Mountain as well. Morgan Croke, Tesha Olsen, Mandy Ortiz and Constien laid down a time of 9 minutes, 50.44 seconds, good for ninth in the state.
Three interesting notes here:
• This was a deep two-mile field. Ten minutes won the state title last year, and Battle Mountain was in ninth with a time that was 10 seconds faster in 2012. By the way, Thompson Valley won Thursday in a sizzling 9:20.69.
• Battle Mountain’s foursome is a junior (Ortiz), two sophomores (Constien and Olsen) and a freshman (Croke). Getting a taste of success like this tends to motivate a crew when it comes to offseason training.
• As is usually the case at Battle Mountain with its 3,200 teams, there was a lot of competition for the four spots. Croke got the call for state in the place of sophomore Christina Shearon. One has to feel for Shearon and hope that she will use this as motivation for next year in both cross-country and track. In the meantime, Croke, Olsen, Ortiz and Constien rallied nicely under the circumstances.
“This crew did great,” Huskies girls head track coach Rob Parish said. “We did quite a bit of shuffling. The 4-by-8 is a very competitive to get on. It rose to the top by the end of the year.”
Battle Mountain’s Logan Carlson took eighth in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.