Monday, August 10, 2020

Titans cross country picks up pace in post season

Six runners headed to state championships

by Than Acuff

Winds battered runners as they charged around the five-kilometer course at the regional championships in Delta on Friday, October 20 but the Titans persevered to finish the day with the girls team qualifying for the state championships, and Vincent Michel cracking the top 15 to punch his ticket to the big show.

“There were some ridiculous winds and there weren’t the PRs [personal records] we were hoping for but a couple of runners still pulled it out,” says coach Laura Daniels. “But really the weekend was about place, because place is what gets you to state.”

Daniels admits she fully expected her girls’ team to qualify, but nothing is ever a sure thing, with several teams in the hunt for one of the top four spots that gets you to the state championships.

“I did expect us to qualify but it wasn’t a gimme,” says Daniels. “Third and fourth place were fairly close to each other and I knew Sydney and Maria would do well, so, really, the question was where our number three runner would end up.”

Both Sydney Petersen and Maria O’Neal rose to the challenge as they were in a fight for all five kilometers with some of the top 2A runners in the state.

“Our region is the strongest in the state,” says Daniels.

Petersen closed out the day finishing in second place with O’Neal in fourth, surrounded by a couple of former state champions in first and third place.

“They both ran really strong races and it was a pretty good preview of what the state meet will look like,” says Daniels.

With Petersen and O’Neal across, the team result then relied on the feet of Myles Cress, Emilie Elkins and Sierra D’Aquila. In the end it came down to the effort of Cress. Cress was in the middle of the pack in her first regional race as a freshman and maintained her pace through the wind and five-kilometers to place 37th adding in the final points to secure the Titans girls team a third-place result and secure their spot at state.

“She definitely felt the pressure but she just ran her race,” says Daniels. “She was steady and strong and did what she had to do.”

Elkins and D’Aquila weren’t far behind, finishing in 40th and 41st place, respectively.

“Their seasons were up and down with injuries and other commitments so I was super pleased with how they ran at regionals,” says Daniels.

The boys’ race was a bit more dramatic for the Titans, with four teams predicted to be fighting for the fourth and final spot.

“It was super tight and I just told them to do what they’ve been doing all season, but be competitive because every point counts,” explains Daniels.

Senior Vincent Michel did just that. Michel buried himself to place 12th overall to earn a spot at the state race and, despite the harsh conditions, set a new PR by 30 seconds.

“He has grown a lot both physically and mentally as a runner and I think the training is really working,” says Daniels. “We build the training plan so they peak right at this time.”

Joe Coburn had an almost opposite day. Coburn had a slew of physical issues throughout the race, blacking out at one point, but rallied to finish the day in 26th place.

“He had a really rough time but the fact that he finished is a testament to his strength,” says Daniels.

Max Faust finished the day in 28th place, Joe Stock took 30th, Yvon Michel placed 52nd, Hilt Freeman 54th, and Logan Utz placed 65th.

“They all still put it out there and I’m proud of them,” says Daniels. “We have a really exciting boys pack coming up for next year.”

Michel and the girls team will continue training this week as they prepare for the state championships in Colorado Springs on Saturday, October 28.

“This week is all about staying healthy, resting and staying loose,” says Daniels.

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