LAKEWOOD – With the Class 3A 3,200-meter relay title coming down the home stretch and with two opponents between he and a state title, Braden Bartlett wasn’t thinking about himself.
The Holy Family senior was thinking about the three previous relay runners who pushed their limits to put him in that position, his friends – Christian Montoya, Rasce Engelhardt and Alex Martinez. That was all the motivation Bartlett needed Thursday.
With roughly 250 meters to go, Bartlett passed runners from Alamosa and Frontier Academy to finish off a school record 7-minute, 59.67-second effort and win the state championship for the Tigers.
“Winning something individually is one thing, and you hold that in your heart forever,” Bartlett said. “But winning with buddies, those are some of my best pals and I couldn’t ask for anything more right now.”
It was the first state championship for each of the Tigers relay runners except Engelhardt, who won last year’s open 800-meter title despite entering the event seeded 15th. The last time the Tigers won the 3,200-meter relay was in 2014, and Engelhardt overcoming a leg injury played a pivotal role in their latest title at Jefferson County Stadium.
“We were sort of hoping to take the lead with our first couple guys so it was kind of a surprise,” Bartlett said. “But you know what, it worked out for us in the end and a win is a win. Rasce has been hurt and maybe that’s why his first leg wasn’t his best but he has so much heart and that got us to the finish, and I know he’ll be back ready to go tomorrow.”
In the girls 3,200-meter relay, Holy Family held seed and placed fourth with a time of 9:50.79. In the 3A girls high jump, Tigers junior Katie Farmer cleared 5 feet to tie for third place.
At the end of the state championships’ opening day, both the Holy Family girls and boys sat top three in the team standings.
Peak to Peak relay pushes the pace, and its streak
The Peak to Peak girls 3,200-meter relay has been a dominant group for longer than the current runners have been in high school.
On Thursday, the Pumas – Anna Shults, Jenna Howard, Quinn McConnell and Tiana Bradfield – won the 3,200-meter relay state title with a time of 9:17.96. It was the sixth year in a row the Pumas crossed the finish line at Jeffco Stadium before everyone else in the Colorado’s Class 3A.
“Our theme as a team this year is, ‘Leave your legacy,’” Howard said. “I think we definitely did that. Continuing that school tradition was really important and we knew TCA was coming in as a good team but we knew that if we worked together and for everything we’ve gone through, we knew we were going to kick butt.”
Jefferson Academy jumps into Day 1
The Jefferson Academy Jaguars entered the state meet with an impressive lineup of jumpers and many of them didn’t waste any time in breaking seed on Thursday.
Jaguars junior Zace Buckhold hit a personal-best 22 feet, 5.75 inches in the 3A boys long jump to place second despite entering seeded third with a previous best of 22-1.5. Freshman Sierra Haberman entered fourth and placed third in the girls high jump, clearing 5 feet while sophomore teammate Aaliyah Robinson cleared 4-10 to place 12th.
SM Waldorf pair shines in state debut
Neither Shining Mountain junior Bodhi Mills nor sophomore teammate Mira Saliman had ever been to state before Thursday.
Debuting together in the 1A girls 3,200-meter race, Mills and Saliman made the most of the good weather by placing third and sixth, respectively.
“Just the energy in the stadium, it really is different than other meets,” Mills said. “Just knowing that all these people are supporting you, it gives you the extra push you need to do your best. I felt like that happened today. It was a great first experience and we’re so grateful to be here.”
Wanninger reaches the podium
Twin Peaks jumper Nathan Wanninger was a little over a foot away from taking home 2A triple jump medal at state last spring, and since then he has made up the distance.
On Thursday, Wanninger marked 39 feet, 10.25 inches to place ninth and earn a spot on the podium.