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Titan runners match wits with regional competition

“It was a good test and it went well”

by Than Acuff

After spending the past several weeks toeing the line against larger programs from throughout the state, the Crested Butte Titans cross-country team headed to Delta for the Pantherfest on Friday, October 7 to get a glimpse of teams they will see in the early stages of the post-season. With October break on hand, the Titans team was down to five runners in Delta, but they made the most of their showing despite their small numbers.

“There were several teams that we will see again at regionals,” says coach Austin Ross. “It was a good test and it went well.”

Sydney Petersen and Maria O’Neal led the charge for the Titans against their regional foes. Both Petersen and O’Neal jumped out into a battle for the lead early in the race and maintained their pace throughout the race with Petersen placing second and O’Neal third. Petersen also matched her previous personal best, posting a time of 19:28:32, with O’Neal just two seconds behind her.

“They had a good race for sure,” says Ross. “It was a fantastic finish.”

Not only that, but Ross gained additional insight into how to get both girls to run faster, admitting that workouts so far have been missing one strategic element.

“We haven’t really worked on how they can work together in a race, so we’re going to focus on that the next week or so,” says Ross, “learning how to use teammates better and taking turns pushing the pace a little bit.”

Mia Shanks joined Petersen and O’Neal in the varsity race finishing 52nd out of 69 runners.

“It was a fairly good race for her,” says Ross.

Vincent Michel and Kevin Yu lined up for the boys race and while Yu continues to make the transition running cross-country in Colorado as an exchange student, Michel posted one of his best results of the season.

Michel has been getting swallowed up by the bigger schools in previous races but he matched well against his 2A counterparts in Delta, running to a 17th-place finish.

“It wasn’t a PR [personal record] but he finished higher on the results sheet and that’s the range we expect him to be in once we get to regionals,” says Ross. “It was good and helps build some confidence.”

The small squad will head to Montrose on Saturday, October 15 for the Montrose Relays and then return to full strength the following week to prepare for the regional meet.

“Once everyone is back from break we start working on peaking and start tapering down for the important races,” says Ross.

The regional meet will be back in Delta on the same course they just ran last week so that, coupled with the plans for O’Neal and Petersen, has Ross optimistic about the Titans effort at regionals.

“We know exactly what to expect and I think Maria and Sydney can definitely drop some time between now and then,” says Ross. “The attitude is that they should finish on top at regionals.”

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