“It shows our training is paying off”
by Than Acuff
Speed, consistency and finishing strong was the focus of the Crested Butte Titans cross-country training regimen last week, and it appears it paid off, as seven of the eight Titan runners set personal records (PR) at the Anna Banana Invitational in Grand Junction on Saturday, September 24.
The Anna Banana provides the opportunity for the Titans to raise their games since the course is flat, at lower altitude and later in the season, without the typically oppressive heat of Grand Junction. In an effort to get the Titans ready to step up their game in Grand Junction, coach Austin Ross continued with their speed block of workouts, adding in a twist the week leading up to the race.
“We had one practice in Gunnison to work on their kicks and a fast finish, and I think it made a difference,” says Ross.
Typically, due to the flat course and milder temperatures, runners at the Anna Banana have the tendency to go out too fast, so Ross also reminded his team of the importance of pace.
“We talked about not getting caught in the sprint at the start and suffering as a result,” says Ross. He told them, “Run a consistent race and finish well.”
For the most part Ross’s runners followed suit and the payoff came in the way of a slew of new personal records.
“Seven people set PRs, which is fantastic,” says Ross. “It shows that our training is paying off.”
Maria O’Neal and Sydney Petersen provided the standout performances for the Titan team, finishing eighth and 11th, respectively, third and fourth place against the 2A rival schools. Both set new PRs, with O’Neal breaking her PR set when she was running in Texas and Petersen shaving a minute off of her previous best time.
“It was an incredible performance in a really big race,” says Ross. “Their training is going well, they’re pushing themselves and getting races under their belts, which will make you faster.”
Emile Elkins, Sierra D’Aquila, Linda Horne and Kelly Sherman all rallied as well in Grand Junction, finishing within three or four places of each other and all but one posting PR times.
The Titans had two runners in the boys race and both Vincent Michel and Max Faust put their training to the test setting PRs as well, with Michel coming in with a time of 18:18.
“It shows that he’s improving and working to be a fast runner and it bodes well for regionals,” says Ross. “We’re still working on pacing with him and if we can get him running a consistent pace, he could easily come in under 18 minutes.”
Overall, Ross is happy with what he is seeing from all of his runners and is getting them geared up for their next challenge as they head to Cañon City on Thursday, September 29.
“It was that watershed moment for the season when people realize the work they’re doing is worth the effort,” says Ross. “Cañon City is a new race and it will be good to see some Front Range competition. We’re looking forward to it.”