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Track and field: Jefferson Academy’s Sierra Haberman defends state high jump title


LAKEWOOD — When Sierra Haberman won one of Jefferson Academy’s first state titles in Class 3A track and field in the high jump in 2021, she earned her personal record at 5 feet, 4 inches.

In her senior season that followed, the Jaguar standout found herself stuck at that height, never moving up. That changed on Thursday at Jeffco Stadium when, after going toe-to-toe with teammate Hallie Williams with a 5-4 mark, she cleared 5-5, then 5-6.

Not only did she defend her state title at the 2022 track and field championships that she claimed just a year earlier, but she broke her holding pattern in doing so.

“It’s adrenaline. I’m really competitive and then just having all the girls push me, we all push each other to do our best,” Haberman said. “I cleared 5-5 and I wasn’t really expecting to clear 5-6. I was hoping I would, of course, but as soon as I cleared it, it just felt absolutely amazing. I don’t even know how to describe it.”

Haberman credited the last-chance success to a few tweaks in her approach, thanks in large part to the addition of Matt Hemingway to her coaching staff. Hemingway, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the event, broke the Colorado prep record in the event as a Buena Vista athlete in 1991 at 7-4. He still holds that record.

He offered his services to Haberman after watching her at a meet, and his insight made all the difference in the last meet of her high school career.

“Some of it is in the high jump, it’s the physical and mental and technical pieces and having the confidence to make those changes and run with them,” Hemingway said. “Her dad did a great job of getting her ready. Her approach is really solid, so that made it really easy. It’s the little things.”

All she had to do was scoot out more on her approach. That’s exactly what won her the gold in the end.

Reaching new heights

Williams is peaking at just the right time, and she continued that rise on Thursday at Jeffco Stadium when, in a showdown with Haberman, she hit her personal record in the high jump.

It all came down to the two Jaguars in the end, after the two of the last competitors bowed out at 5 feet, 3 inches. That was Williams’ previous PR, but she improved upon that mark when both her and Haberman cleared the 5-4 bar to keep the showdown going.

Finding a way to finish strong

Chrisly Kelly-Cannon wasn’t about to let a few muscle micro-tears get in the way of performing to the best of his ability in the 3A state competition.

The Jefferson Academy junior injured not just one but both of his hamstrings midway through the season, and has been competing ever since. On Thursday, he managed fourth place in the triple jump when he hit a distance of 44 feet, 0.25 inches, just a few inches short of his PR of 44-7.