Vail Christian strikes bronze |

Vail Christian strikes bronze

Vail Christian's Kendelle Smith, right, and Mariana Engleby return to the state meet in the medley as well as individual sprints this weekend.
Jim Harding | Daily file photo

LAKEWOOD — Welcome to the nightmare scenario at state track — the false start.

If you leave the blocks early, you, or, in the case of a relay, your team is disqualified, which makes for a rather short state-meet experience.

The Vail Christian’s 800-meter girls team was all ready to go during the 2A state finals on Friday, May 18, at Lakewood’s Jeffco Stadium and, naturally, there was a false start.

And, yes, there is that brief moment that one thinks that it was your team.

“There was a small moment of, ‘Oh, no,” Saints anchor Mariana Engleby said. “But Kiana (Brausch) is great out of the blocks. It wasn’t her.”

No it wasn’t, and after everyone — minus Fowler — got back into the blocks, the Saints raced to bronze in the 800 with a time of 1 minute, 49.31 seconds.

As coach Jen Sicksel has said repeatedly this season, her girls, though young, know how to keep their heads about them in pressure situations.

Brausch, Catherine Donoho and Engleby are just sophomores and Kendelle Smith is the youngster in the bunch as a freshman. And, yes, they are bronze-medalists.

“I told the girls before the race to go for the win,” Sticksel said. “They did. I think the difference between first and third was 4-tenths. We could not have performed better and we couldn’t be happier.”

The Saints girls did not qualify in the 800 relay last season. They did in the 1,600, winning a bronze. And, yes, the 1,600 ladies are back in the finals on Saturday, May 19, after qualifying Friday. Those would be the same four girls with Smith as the anchor. Vail Christian goes to state efficiently.

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The boys’ 400 relay qualified on Friday with a fifth place finish in 45.20 seconds. That’s Hayden Sticksel, Harry Jaffe, P.G. Nkalang’ango and Quinn Mitchell. The boys also punched their ticket in the 1,600 relay. That’s everyone above except that E.J. Koller is in for Nkalang’ango.

And Vail Christian added a few more points on Friday with a seventh-place finish in boys 4-by-2. Nkalang’ango, Mitchell, Sticksel and Jaffe finished in 1:34.04.

Speaking of Nkalang’ango, he made the podium in ninth in pole vault with a leap of 11 feet, 8 inches. On the ladies side, Blake Layman went 8-5 and finished 10th.

Vail Christian also has athletes in individual finals on Saturday.

Smith and Sticksel are in their respective 400s, while Jaffe goes in the 200.

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