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Titans track battles the elements to post solid results

“As a team, they’re doing well”

by Than Acuff

With a handful of Crested Butte track team members battling illness and busy schedules, coach Laura Puckett still rallied 24 Titans to the San Luis Valley for the Center Invitational in Monte Vista on Friday, March 16.

“Kids are busy, kids are getting sick, but we deal,” says Puckett.

The Center Invitational is one of the smaller meets the Titans hit during the season and a great way for the athletes to get into track mode with the season getting under way. This year posed some added challenge as athletes were met with the windiest conditions Puckett has ever seen at a meet, and freezing temperatures.

“It was so cold and windy you couldn’t even hear calls to events 10 feet away from the announcer,” says Puckett. “Given the conditions, we were psyched everyone made it on time to their events.”

Training is ramping up and the Center event gives the Titans a glimmer of where they stand in their training, as well as giving the coaches some insight into their team.

“We have a lot more girls than last year so we’re doing a ton of learning, learning the workings of a meet,” says Puckett.

While many of the girls team members were scattered throughout numerous events getting their feet underneath them, Sydney Peterson and Maria O’Neal continue to provide a formidable one-two punch in the distance events. Peterson took the winter off from basketball to focus on training and additional races as she looks to be on course for a college career in Division I. In Monte Vista, she ran away from the field in the two-mile event, and then lapped all of them, to cruise to the win. She tacked on an easy win in the mile race as well.

“It’s hard for her to find competition on the Western Slope,” says Puckett. “She’s the best in her small pond and we are having trouble getting her into the bigger pond to race.”

O’Neal complemented Peterson’s effort as she won the 800 meters by two seconds and battled for the win in the 400 meters.

“It was great for the girls to win and run fast times but it would have been nice to have someone pushing them as well,” says Puckett.

Emelie Elkins brought home some hardware in the high jump and the rest of the girls team gained valuable knowledge of the high school track meet scene.

“We’re still trying to figure out where our strengths and weaknesses are with lots of people doing lots of different things,” says Puckett.

The boys team rallied through their events with numerous scoring results. Josh Merck placed fourth in the 200 meters and continues to lead the sprint crew, joining Will Hoskin, Tate Young and Hilt Freeman to place second in the 4×200 meter relay.

Sully Marshall placed fourth in the 400 and teamed up with Merck, Young and Walker Carroll to place second in the mile relay. Finn Wilson continues to gain ground in the distance events as he placed seventh in the 800 meters.

“For him to break into the top 10 at the start of his senior year is really good,” says Puckett.

Ty Sherman, Merck and Young then tacked on more points to the boys team total as Sherman took fifth in the high jump, Merck placed sixth in the long jump and Young posted a sixth-place finish in the triple jump.

“Not all high places but solid results across the board,” says Puckett. “As a team they’re doing well.”

The Titans continue to train as best they can as they prepare for the Hotchkiss Invitational this weekend in Delta.

“It’s been a little tricky, as always, without a track facility so we have to use our meets as practices,” says Puckett. “It’s good to know where we are now but we’re still not satisfied.”

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