Focus on league championships
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans track team put a close to the regular season last weekend competing in the Terry Valley Invitational in Pagosa Springs. The meet was new territory for the Titans; they typically spend this weekend at the prestigious Tiger Invite in Grand Junction. The Tiger Invite pits Crested Butte against bigger schools and the Titans use the event to push harder and bring times down to qualify for the state championships.
But a scheduling change meant that the Tiger Invite was unavailable and coach Dustin Simoens scanned the state for a replacement event, landing on the meet in Pagosa Springs.
“I was looking around and found this meet and saw that a lot of the schools from our league would be there,” explains Simoens.
The weekend got off to a rough start as their bus driver was suddenly unavailable due to a medical condition, and the team and coaches had to wait before they could leave for Pagosa. The delay meant a late arrival setting the team behind schedule in their pre-race preparations. The following day, athletes from all schools were thrown another curveball as a storm system rolled through forcing three weather delays throughout the event and further throwing off warm ups and pre-race rituals.
“From the beginning things were just stacked against us,” says Simoens. “It was tough on the kids because they would get warmed up and then have to go sit on the bus for 30 minutes to wait it out, but I think the kids dealt with the adversity and the meet ended up pretty good.”
With state qualifications on the mind, the coaches had big aspirations for the boys’ 4×200-meter relay team as well as the girls’ sprint medley and 4×800. Unfortunately, the boys’ 4×200 team lost a key component in Shawnee Landry for the rest of the season with a back injury and Simoens scrambled to find a new line up.
The new team of Kaleb Schultz, Will Hoskin, Walker Carroll and Joe Hayes found enough cohesion to pull off a sixth place finish and while they are far from contention for the state championships, the new line up will be running together in the 4×100 at the state meet.
“It was good in that they got to race together before we go to the state championships,” says Simoens.
The girls’ sprint medley placed fourth in Pagosa but did not move up in the overall rankings with their effort and remain on the cusp of qualifying sitting in 18th place. The 4×800-meter relay team of Sam Crossett, Sydney Peterson, Ariel Kilpatrick and Elina Smith had an outstanding result to finish in third place and are knocking on the door of state qualification.
“The girls 4×800 was the race of the day,” says Simoens. “They took 14 seconds off their previous best time, which is huge.”
Simoens points out that a lot of that had to do with Kilpatrick, who continues to shave time off her splits as well as her individual 800-meter time. She also set a new personal record in the 400 meters earning her the coveted Golden Shoe Award for the week.
“She’s been consistently knocking time off and just had a great meet,” says Simoens.
The girls’ 4×100 and 4×200-meter teams placed fifth and sixth respectively, and Malia Olson continued her point-scoring effort in her events, finishing in fourth in the 100 meters and fifth in the 100-meter hurdles.
Meanwhile in the distance events, the one-two Peterson and Crossett punch continued as they teamed up in the 1600-meter race to finish in second and fifth place respectively.
“I think the girls really rallied,” says Simoens.
Aiden Truettner doubled up in the distance events to fire off a second place finish in the 3200-meter race and a sixth place finish in the 1600 meters. The boys’ 4×800-meter relay team posted a fourth place finish anQuinn Winter finished fourth in the high jump.
The team heads to Monte Vista this weekend for the Southern Peaks league meet and Simoens and the coaching staff will use the week to get some final details in order.
“It’s a lot of fine tuning right now. We’re in taper phase,” says Simoens. “ I think everybody’s peaking.”
While Simoens expects the team to make additional strides in the overall state rankings in a couple events, the focus at the league meet will also be on getting as many kids as possible to compete in as many events as possible and score points for the team in an effort to push for a league title.
“I think we stack up all right,” says Simoens. “We don’t have as much depth as last year when we won it but we’ve got some fast kids and I think we’ll be competitive. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.”