“We have a lot coming back and a lot to build on”
After all was said and done with the regular season and regionals, Aiden Truettner and Sam Crossett emerged to represent the Crested Butte Titans at the cross-country state championships on Saturday, October 25. Both had been there the year before and both were looking to improve on their efforts at the big show.
The two Titans had a week to prepare for the race and the coaching staff used the time to focus on health and rest.
“Our primary focus was on feeling good,” says head coach Austin Ross, “staying healthy and not getting tired. We did a little speed work but any seconds you pick up are in the details and making sure they’re mentally prepared and I think we did well with that.”
The state championship course has earned the respect of coaches and runners over the past couple of years. While maybe not the toughest course the Titans see all season, it does have a reputation. After the first mile, the course takes runners into the pain cave with a couple of stout hills.
“This one has sort of a reputation,” says Ross. “The course puts the hurt on people for sure.”
For Truettner, it was all about finding his comfort zone. Heading into the state race, the coaches knew that Truettner would be in the mix between third and eighth place and they wanted to make sure he remained in that mix.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight for third to eighth place,” says Ross. “The game plan for Aiden was to run a smart race, a race he was in control of.”
Truettner came off the start line a little slow but proceeded to tick off his opponents in the first mile heading into the hill zone. At that point, he worked to keep the pace going up so he was set up for success on the way down.
“The downhills are his strength but we wanted him to attack the uphill,” says Ross.
Truettner managed to follow the plan as well as possible and spent the remainder of the race after the hills fighting to maintain his position. By the end of the five-kilometer battle, Truettner crossed the finish in eighth place overall with a time of 17:44, 19 seconds faster than his time on the same course last season.
“That’s a solid improvement,” says Ross. “I think he ran a really solid race.”
For Crossett, the plan was relatively the same: improve upon her effort last year.
“We knew going in that she was going to be middle of the pack,” says Ross. “She likes to find a rhythm and go with it. We wanted her to improve on last year and see what she could do.”
Crossett fell a bit shy of the plan, coming in 49th place out of 80 runners; last year she finished 48th. Nevertheless, it was another solid race for Crossett to finish out her high school career.
“She ran well and is a very consistent runner,” says Ross. “Top 50 out of a race of 80 kids is respectable. She’s still got a big accomplishment under her belt.”
Truettner has another year left and will be back for more next season.
“He improved a lot and kept getting faster and faster,” says Ross. “He’s set up well for next season.”
As for the young team, Ross believes the past season was a great start and the future is bright, as several runners made their high school debut this year and moved into the varsity ranks as the season progressed.
“I think we had a really good season,” says Ross. “I was proud of the improvement everyone made over the season and the young team held its own. We have a lot coming back and a lot to build upon.”