Senior spotlight: Vail Christian track and field
This was going to be a silver and blue blur
Vail Christian track and field usually has an uneventful regular season.
That’s not a dis; it’s a reality because the 2A Saints usually spend most of the spring competing against bigger 3A and 4A squads.
And then Vail Christian gets to the state meet and gets to pick on someone its own size and the medals start to flow.
This season, of course, halted by the outbreak of COVID-19, was likely no exception.
The Saints were rearing to go with seniors Hayden Sticksel, Quinn Mitchell, Micah Sharpe, John Pavelich, Sam Jaffe, Andy Stojkovich, Kiana Brausch, Abby Kuhns, Mari Engleby, Catherine Donoho, Lauren Hilty and Beka Gershenoff.
Vail Christian’s boys — E.J. Koller, Kellen Kinsella, Luke Bowers, and Mitchell — were the defending state champions in the 800-meter relay.
Yes, there are new faces new places, but just as Battle Mountain track does distance annually, the Saints are all about being speed merchants.
If you’ve watched Mitchell play soccer as he’s done for Battle Mountain and Sticksel in Saints football and basketball, despite graduation losses, Vail Christian was going to be fast.
“Boys-wise, Sam Jaffe hadn’t run with us, but his brother had. We had big hopes for him to step up,’ Saints coach Jen Sticksel said. “We also had Andreas Ascencio. We lost all those kids, but we were getting our hopes up in practice.”
Another reason for high hopes were the ladies in the 1,600 relay. Two years ago, Brausch, Engleby, Donoho and then-frosh Kendelle Smith won state in the 4-by-4. Donoho broke her foot last year scotching plans for a repeat, but everyone was back for their senior and junior seasons, respectively.
Throw in sophomore Lolo Wilson, and it wasn’t hard seeing lots of combinations of relays and open sprints turning Vail Christian blue and silver. (And, yes, we’re still amazed that a Wilson doesn’t play soccer.)
As often happens on the Western Slope, Vail Christian also had a fun family situation this spring with mom (Jen) coaching her son (Hayden). As often happens it’s not only special to coach your offspring but all the friends who grow up with him or her. (We’re thinking the Alexander and Kuhns’ clans in the past and the Piersons in the future.)
“It’s so special to coach your kid,” Jen said. “It’s been a neat bond with track and field and sports in general. It’s sad to see it end, but it’s been a special experience.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.