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Track and field: Jefferson Academy, Holy Family see state champs on day one

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LAKEWOOD — Chrisly Kelly-Cannon was always the fast kid.

On Thursday at Jeffco Stadium for the Class 3A state track and field championships, he also became the greatest leaper, not just in 3A Colorado history, but in Jefferson Academy history.

He secured his spot in the record books with a new 3A meet record when he leapt to 23 feet, 1.5 inches in the long jump, and stole the 3A crown in the process. The previous record, which belonged to Josiah Baker at 23-1.25 inches, had stood since 2003.

Prior to Thursday, the Jaguars had never seen an individual state champion in any event. By the end of the night, they had two. Junior Sierra Haberman also took home the title in the girls high jump with a 5-4 mark.

“It’s a relief, actually, for us to be able to break through like that because the kids have been so close for the last decade when we started the program,” Jaguar coach Eric Thimsen said. “I think you saw how mentally tough both of them were, really. For Chrisley to get the meet record on his last jump and then Sierra — she had to make it at 5-4, otherwise she’s at second — so then she made that jump. The girl put the pressure on her.”

Kelly-Cannon hadn’t even competed in track and field before this year.

“I’ve been working for this at home for a long time and it feels really good to see my hard work paying off,” Kelly-Cannon said. “It was lots of sprints, lots of lifting, trying to get my legs to get more powerful and be able to jump higher using that power drive from my legs.”

The Jefferson Academy phenom, normally a soccer player, realized his greatness while sprinting on the pitch. He decided he wanted to try his luck on the track, and so far that bet is paying off.

“Ever since I started doing track, I saw that it was faster, so I’ve been pushing myself and lifting more, trying to get more powerful to get faster and faster,” he said. “I ran a 10.87 (in the 100-meter dash) today, that was my PR, and it felt really good.”

He’ll be gracing the track again Saturday for the 100 finals and 200-meter dash finals to further represent the Jaguars.

They weren’t the only state champions to bring pride to Broomfield. Holy Family’s recent graduate, Brody Welch, broke his personal record on his way to a gold-standard performance in the shot put. He threw the shot 50 feet, 4.5 inches in the preliminary round, and his fellow 3A opponents couldn’t take him down with any attempt that followed.

“I knew I had the potential to be good, it was just technique and the coaches helping with what I needed to fix,” Welch said. “It all came together. It was awesome. I knew once it hit a little past the line that it was a good throw. Once Holden did his last throw and it wasn’t far enough, I knew. It’s a very exciting feeling.”

Welch began the season with a 43-10 distance but slowly worked his way up to add nearly seven feet to his maximum distance. He attributed the large jump to dedication in the weight room and fine-tuning his technique.

Now that he’s finished his high school career on a high, he can enter his college career at Colorado School of Mines with heightened confidence and a new mark to beat.