“It gave us an idea of what we need to work on”
The Titans cross-country training regimen got its first test of the season on Friday, September 2 at the Delta Invitational.
Initially, coach Connie Hayden was going to skip the trip to Delta but when news surfaced that the course would be used for the regional meet, she rallied her team to the Western Slope for a look at the course as well as the Titans regional competition.
Due to early season issues among several of her athletes, Hayden could only take a small but significant segment of her talent pool, with five boys and six girls lining up for the varsity and JV races.
The five-kilometer course, while topographically benign, does offer some surprise mental challenges.
“It’s flat and fast on gravel the whole way,” explains Hayden. “It finishes with a mile and a half around a lake, which can be mentally challenging. Also, it was 90 degrees with no breeze.”
Senior Matt Galley led the boys’ team. Galley joined the team this season and brings additional punch to the roster with sophomore Ian Boucher, who missed out in Delta.
Galley posted a time of 18.02 to finish in 13th place out of 109 runners in his first race in Colorado.
“He got a good intro to the Colorado race competition, altitude and the course,” says Hayden.
The sophomore crew of Forrest Smith, Danny D’Aquila and Kyle Boyle built on their success from last year, posting personal records for five kilometers and shaving time off their races last year on the same course.
“Forrest, Danny and Kyle all rocked it,” says Hayden. “It was really good to see.”
Junior Amber Scott opened her 2011 season in great fashion in Delta. Hayden put a challenge to Scott, asking her to step out of her comfort zone and race with a new strategy.
“Her goal this race was to toy with the front of the pack and then hold on. She usually starts out slower,” explains Hayden. “She followed the race plan.”
Scott carried her stride through to the finish to take third place out of 89 runners with a time of 20.38, 10 seconds off her personal best and a full three minutes faster than her race in Delta last year.
Sophomore Mina Moscatelli and seniors Shelby Kopf and Natalie Barefield succumbed to the heat but Barefield battled to shave more than a minute off her time last season.
“They all had solid races; they were just dealing with the heat,” says Hayden.
Most important, Hayden realized how her team is looking overall as well as how their competition looks.
“It gave us an idea of what we need to work on,” says Hayden. “Our main regional competition is Telluride and they’re looking very strong.”
The Titans head to familiar territory this weekend, competing in the Lake County Invitational in Leadville on Saturday, September 10. The course is notoriously hilly and at altitude, two aspects that tend to favor the Titan runners.
“We will be very much at home,” says Hayden.