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Titans track and field gains speed, strength and numbers this season

“Our usual three-ring circus is a lot more crowded”

by Than Acuff

The Crested Butte Titans track and field team has undergone an explosion in numbers from last year as coach Laura Daniels continues her efforts to bring the program back to its former glory years.

Daniels coached the team for five years, growing the popularity of the sport, but took time off before returning to the coaching fold last season. Since first returning, she has committed herself to rekindling the Titans’ fire for track and has already seen results in her efforts, with 31 athletes—12 girls and 19 boys—out for the team this season. The roster includes 12 seniors, 12 more than she had last season.

“We’re up 50 percent from last year. We’re psyched,” says Daniels.

Those numbers bode well for a number of reasons and Daniels is looking forward to a vibrant season as a result.

“It’s very exciting,” says Daniels. “We can fill out the entire complement of events. We’ve got enough people, and back-ups. It’s awesome. Track meets are more fun when you have someone in every event.”

But the larger team also has its challenges: specifically, coaching 31 athletes.

“Our usual three-ring circus is a lot more crowded,” says Daniels.

Daniels does have former collegiate decathlete and current physics teacher Matt Benoit as her full-time assistant, bringing a whole new level of knowledge to the program.

“He knows all of the events and brings a wealth of knowledge, more than I’ve ever had in an assistant,” says Daniels. “I’m really grateful.”

But it also means that she is looking for additional part-time coaching help as both she and Benoit have enough on their plate each practice.

The team started workouts two weeks ago and Daniels and Benoit spent the first week getting to know the athletes, all the while getting quality workouts under their belt to build strength, stability and aerobic capacity. In addition, Daniels threw in some team activities to continue building the team dynamic started last season.

“We spent one practice with everyone running hurdles,” says Daniels. “It was probably the most fun practice I’ve had in seven years.”

Daniels believes her boys team should have a solid season with athletes returning from strong seasons last year and a couple of new additions filling out the ranks.

“I think we will be strong in short distance, long distance and jumps,” says Daniels.

The girls’ side of things also has some veterans returning in the hurdles and sprints as well as the distance events, and an influx of freshmen girls eager to complement the team.

The team got their first small taste of competition on Saturday, March 10 with the Icicle Classic in Montrose. Daniels was unable to make the meet as she was leading by example in her own way, placing fourth among all women at a trail-running half-marathon in Salida. While she was blazing the course in Salida, things went well for the Titans in Montrose.

“It’s a pretty small-potatoes meet but everyone did some things they’d never done before,” says Daniels.

The Titans head to Monte Vista on Friday, March 16 for the Center High School Invitational, their first official meet of the season.

“This will be the first time this season that our results will go to the state standings so it will be the first time we’ll see how we stack up against people from around the state,” says Daniels. “But, things change a lot from now and 10 weeks from now so you can’t put a lot of stock in it.”

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