“We have a lot of kids on the cusp”
by Than Acuff
With AP testing splintering the Titans track team last week, coach Laura Daniels devised a plan to make sure her athletes still got the competition they needed as she took five Titans to the Twilight Invitational Friday evening in Pueblo while assistant coach Anne Weise took the rest of the team that day for a meet in Canon City.
In the end, Titans on both squads continued to make strides be it on a personal level or with the state championships in mind.
“We do focus some on getting kids to state but there’s a lot to be said for those that keep getting better as the season continues,” says Daniels. “They are working so hard and it’s been really awesome to watch them grow as a team.”
Daniels took Sydney Petersen, Maria O’Neal, Joe Coburn, Woody Martineau and Malia Olson to Pueblo to accommodate their testing schedule as well as to introduce them to the energy of a big meet and a bigger talent pool.
“We saw schools we never see, totally different competition, which was super fun,” says Daniels. “Also, it was an elite meet which was really cool and it was good for them in terms of preparation for the state meet. It was a good simulation so mentally, it was really helpful.”
With the Titans arriving late due to testing, Daniels had each runner focus on just one event. Petersen jumped into the two-mile race and due to her recorded best time from this season, she was placed in the slower of three heats. As a result, Petersen ran all alone for the entire two miles as she set a new personal record time of 12:12.55.
“I’ll take it,” says Daniels. “My hope is that she breaks 12 at state.”
O’Neal had a similar experience in her mile race. Again, due to seedings she was placed in a somewhat slower heat and held a slight lead over one other runner for three laps before pulling away on her final lap to win the heat and set a new personal record time in Colorado of 5:34.16.
Olson represented the Titans in her one sprint event, the 200 meters, and continued the string of personal records (PR) setting one in her race with a time of 28.54.
“She’s looking really strong,” says Daniels.
Coburn and Martineau joined forces in the mile, a first for Martineau who has spent this season in the 800 and 400 meters. Martineau dug into his reserves as a Nordic skier to put together a credible mile that has Daniels thinking state for him in that event while Coburn ran a time of 4:51 setting a new PR.
“He did set a new PR but we were hoping for a much faster time,” says Daniels. “He is still ranked 18th in state but we’d like him to move up a few spots to secure a spot at state.”
Earlier that day the rest of the Titans were busy setting new PRs and setting themselves up for, or securing, spots at the state championships in Canon City.
The boys 4×400-meter relay team of Josh Merck, Tristan Davis, Sully Marshall and Tate Young put together their best race of the season to place sixth in Canon City and are now ranked 13th in 2A setting them up for a spot at state.
Young also punched his ticket to state in the 800 meters placing second in canon City. Meanwhile, Merck rebroke his school record in the long jump as he jumped a foot further than before.
Keely Olson had a breakout day in Canon City. Keely finished fourth in the 300-meter hurdles to set her up for a spot at state, took ninth in the 100-meter hurdles and broke the school record in the long jump to move up in the 2A state rankings from 25th to fifth place for another spot at state.
“It’s been exciting to watch her figure out high school track and come into her own,” says Daniels.
The team finishes the regular season this weekend in Monte Vista at the Last Chance Invitational and Daniels is looking for a strong close for the entire team and more Titans to make the cut for the state meet.
“We’re just trying to stay strong and finish with a bang,” says Daniels. “We have a lot of kids on the cusp.”