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In final meet, Berendzen leads way for Cougars

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By Brian Forbes

LAKEWOOD — You probably can’t run 1,600 meters without stopping.

That’s more than 1,749 yards for those not raised in Canada. That’s more than 17 football fields to you gridiron minds, or a shade less than one mile to those who prefer to read their newspaper while driving.

If you had to run 1,600 meters, you’d probably require a pack of wild dogs to chase you. Something – anything – to make you peel around that track with a purpose.

If you managed to pull it off, you’d probably be pretty proud of yourself. If you did it in 5 minutes, 13.24 seconds, you just might be amazed.

Kyla Berendzen didn’t need the wild dogs on Friday, May 16, as she ran crushed her personal record - and the Evergreen school record - in the event to place fifth at the Class 4A state track and field championships at Jefferson County Stadium.

“It’s a lot better than I expected,” Berendzen said while gulping huge breaths of air on a near-perfect spring afternoon.

Berendzen said her previous best time in the event was around a 5:25, which gave her a nearly 12-second reduction when it mattered most. The lanky blonde said she thought she would finished at least a couple spots back, but things changed after she got off to a good start after navigating the initial pack.

“I actually didn’t see who was racing with me when I got up to the line,” said Berendzen, who placed fourth in the 3,200 with a time of 11:37.31.

Laura Tremblay of Thompson Valley won the event with a time of 5:03.23 while Kendra Gerk of Greeley West (5:05.40) was second and Alicia Nelson of Moffat County (5:09.61) placed third.

Berendzen essentially carried the torch for the Cougars at the two-day tournament by placing in the event. Teammate Ryan Haebe had a strong race shortly after in the 1,600-meter run but was unable to place inside the top nine.

“Definitely,” Haebe said when asked if he ran the race he intended. “Usually I’m a little slow in that third lap, but today I felt like, you know, it’s state, and somehow I pushed through it and my kick still came. It was good. I ran a (personal record) and everything.”

The race start was wrinkled by a false start but got underway in fairly typical fashion. Wes Rickman of Falcon surged ahead before he was reeled in and conquered by D’Evelyn standout Kevin Williams, who won the race with a time of 4:14.76.

Haebe moved up methodically after nearly each lap. He finished the first 400 meters third from last, but put more bodies between him and the end by time he crossed the finish line.

“It’s a great day,” Haebe said of the weather, which was ideal for runners with its pleasant breeze and generous clouds.

Haebe returned to the track on May 17 and took part in the 3,200-meter race. He finished with a time of 9:57.12, good for sixth-place.

Haebe’s younger sister, Bryn, finished the 3,200-meter race in 12:02.86. Tayler Warren ran the 800 in 2:26.94.

The Cougars’ 4x800-meter girls relay team of Berendzen, Haebe, Warren and Danielle Randolph finished eighth and set a new school record with a time of 9:55.05.