Titan runners rally on Gunnison x-c course

A couple podiums and a host of PRs

by Than Acuff

A friendly course and near-perfect weather set the stage for the Crested Butte Titans cross country team to set a host of personal records (PR), season best times and step onto the podium in Gunnison on Saturday, September 16.

For the first time all season the entire boys team lined up for a race and with conditions the way they were, coaches Shari Sullivan-Marshall and Laura Daniels laid out a new plan for their runners.

“We gave them a different plan,” explains Sullivan-Marshall. “We told them not to worry about times. Instead, mile one was their mile, mile two was the hunting mile where we wanted them to find someone in front of them and try to catch them, and the last mile was the racing mile, pushing themselves. In the end it paid off.”

As a result, the boys finished with six PRs and six season best times, led by senior Vincent Michel. Michel battled with a field close to 90 strong to come in 13th place overall and just six seconds off of his PR. Junior Joe Coburn had his best race to date, placing 22nd and shaving 30 seconds off of his previous PR. Max Faust followed suit with a PR as well.

Meanwhile, the freshmen Titan runners are gaining steps with each race as they become more comfortable with the five-kilometer distance and figuring out their pace.

“Everyone of those guys just keeps on improving and every time they run, they run a PR,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

The girls then lined up and fed off the effort of the boys as they headed out on course.

“The boys race gave the girls confidence,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “They were psyched.”

Seniors Sydney Petersen and Maria O’Neal charged off the start line to join a runner from Telluride in the lead pack, leaving the rest of the field behind. The Telluride runner built a small gap in the first mile with Petersen and O’Neal not far behind. As the race entered the second mile, a headwind put the hurt on the runners and Petersen and O’Neal settled into their paces and maintained their spots to finish in second and third place, respectively, setting new season best times and coming closer and closer to their PR times.

“They both ran super steady, which is hard to do when you’re out on the course by yourself,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “Maria was really consistent and they both just pushed it.”

Freshman Myles Cress is starting to figure out the distance and her speed over the entire race, making massive strides. Cress finished the race in 41st place and took another four minutes off of her fastest previous time. Junior Emilie Elkins and senior Sierra D’Aquila returned to action after nursing some injuries. Both appear to be back at full strength now and ready to rebuild their race fitness in the coming weeks.

“They’re both in a good place now and are ready for more,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

The team heads to Fruita this weekend for the annual Anna Banana Invitational. With the course almost 3,000 feet lower in elevation than Crested Butte, coaches Sullivan-Marshall and Daniels are looking for their runners to keep gaining speed and cutting time.

“We’re super excited going into the Anna Banana,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “There’s a lot of competition at this race and it’s always a great race for us. We’re excited to see what they can do.”

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