Titans track one step closer to full strength

Headed to Grand Junction this weekend

The Crested Butte Titans track team is a work in progress but every week the team takes another step toward hitting their stride.
This past weekend 15 Titans made the trip to Delta for the Panther Invitational. With stormy weather on the Front Range forcing the cancellation of several track meets, the Panther Invitational was inundated with late entries, bringing in a total of 30 teams when all was said and done.
The Titans stood up to the test and Coach Laura Puckett continued to tweak her athletes in an effort to find out where everyone stands this year.
Junior Karleigh Dean was the first experiment. Dean lined up for the 100-meter dash for the first time and battled against 62 other sprinters—several coming from bigger schools with longer training seasons—to finish 15th with a time of 14.12 seconds.
“To finish that well in her debut is pretty good,” says coach Puckett.
Puckett got a chance to find out how sophomore Skylar Kraatz was doing so far as she made her 2010 meet debut in Delta. Kraatz competed in several events including two relays and based on her time in the 400-meter dash, things are looking good. Kraatz finished in 11th in the 400-meters with a time of 1:06:51, just one second off her personal record time from last year.
Speaking of relays, Puckett made a conscious decision to dial in the girls’ relay teams this season.
“I want to figure out who our fastest girls are and put them together effectively,” says Puckett.
The 800-meter sprint medley team of sophomore Toni Brown and juniors Melanie Whiting, Madeline Malzahn and Dean had the top result of the day, finishing in seventh place out of 12 teams.
It was Whiting’s first meet for 2010 as well, and Puckett looks to her as an integral part of the relay scene.
“We’re really excited to have her back this year because she’s a key component to the relay teams,” says Puckett.
Sophomore Jessie D’Aquila joined Malzahn, Dean and Kraatz in the 4×400-meter relay to finish in 10th place with a time of 4:52.
Junior Tanner Gordon is flirting with his personal record times already this season in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, and took a stab at the 400-meter dash for the first time in Delta last weekend.
“He ran a 57.56, which is awesome for his first 400,” says Puckett. “I’m looking forward to running him in more mid-distance events. I think he should see some success there.”
Senior Ricky Sandoval had his hands full at the meet with top sprinters from around the state showing up, but the pace seemed to inspire him rather than discourage him as he set a new personal record time in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.34.
As for the distance runners, several are still nursing injuries, but Puckett sees improvement from the ones who are able to run, including junior Sarah Rochniak.
“She’s 15 seconds faster in the mile in just one week and that’s unheard-of,” says Puckett. “The distance crew is coming along.”
The team heads to Grand Junction on Saturday, March 27 for the Mickey Dunn Invitational and Puckett expects to have a few more Titans trickling in for the upcoming meet.
“We’re still not running full-strength yet,” says Puckett.

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