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Titans track tests limits for build up to state with toughest workouts of season

Several athletes knocking on the door

[  by Than Acuff  ]

The past week, if not the past two weeks, coach Ben Davis put his Crested Butte Titans track team through the ringer. The team returned from Spring Break and was thrown into some of the toughest workouts of the season, culminating last Wednesday.

While the freshmen and sophomores were competing at a meet in Gunnison, Davis had the rest of the crew in Gunnison as well for his infamous “gut check” workout.

“The reason is two-fold,” explains Davis. “One, to see where their physical and mental capacity is and, two, to work on finishing endurance. It pushes them beyond the limit of what they’re used to, which exposes a lot of things.”

Meanwhile, the Titans freshmen and sophomores were battling against their peers, at least age-wise, at the annual freshman/sophomore meet in Gunnison. Davis used the opportunity for fun and experimentation and to gain some insight into what is possible among his younger athletes.

“It’s more of a fun meet and I let them do what they want,” says Davis. “I use it more for experimenting and letting them try out new events.”

Sydney Peterson dominated her events as expected, winning three and taking second place in another. Josh Merck continues to stretch his long jump and after his performance in Gunnison, Davis expects he may be making the cut for the state meet. In addition, Davis learned that Tate Young is quite proficient in the triple jump and will be toeing the line in that event for the remainder of the season.

“There were a lot of surprises,” says Davis.

The team spent Thursday recovering from both the meet and the “gut check” and then hit the road on Friday, April 29 to compete in the Montrose Invitational. Facing a large and very competitive field of athletes from bigger programs, expectations of results were somewhat muted. Nevertheless, the day was not without its highlights and Davis used the Montrose meet to continue dialing in the relay squads.

“Our main focus was on the relays, both the boys and girls,” explains Davis. “Due to injuries and illnesses, we haven’t had a quality run of relays yet.”

Thomas Taaca continues to shave time off of his sprint times and placed 15th out of 75 runners in both the 100 meters and 200 meters. Based on his effort in Montrose, Taaca took one step closer to qualifying for the 2A state championships in the 200 meters. Young typically runs the 800 meters but after a couple of field events, Davis dropped him into the 400 meters race and Young posted the fastest time for the team so far this season.

“I knew he could do it, I just hadn’t seen it,” says Davis.

The boys’ relay teams continue to struggle with exchanges and while a penalty disqualified them from one event, the 4×200 meters has an outside chance of making it to state if they can tighten things up and shave a couple of seconds off.

The girls’ relay teams are a bit further along but are still missing Malia Olson. As a result, Davis called on freshman Hope Freeman to join the senior corps of relay runners and they appear to be on track for faster times sooner rather than later.

“They had decent exchanges and they still haven’t qualified but they’re close to the cut,” says Davis. “Now it’s just about perfecting running form and finishing speed.”

Peterson set two new personal records in the mile and the 800 meters to take third in both events. She is now ranked in the top five in the state 2A ranks in the mile and top 10 in the 800 meters.

Davis and the coaching staff plan on using this week to continue work on relays and give attention to the events that are on the cusp and making it to the state championships three weeks away.

“This week there’s a lot of focus on exchanges and technique and giving a little more personal one-on-one time,” says Davis.

The team is headed to Colorado Springs this weekend for their toughest challenge of the season, as they will line up against the top 4A and 5A programs in the state including the national record-holder in the girls’ mile. As a result, Davis expects his team to come away from the Colorado Springs meet with more personal records and, quite possibly, some more kids qualifying for the 2A state championships.

“When you’re running against the top in the state, you’re going to run faster,” says Davis.

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