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Titans track still searching for perfect mix

“They ran really well and are starting to figure each other out”

by Than Acuff

With a small and relatively young girls team and a bigger boys team, coach Laura Daniels and her staff are using the first couple of track meets of the season to get an idea of what kind of team they have. They continued that plan last weekend as the Titans headed to their second “official” meet of the season, the Hotchkiss Bulldog Invitational on Saturday, March 24.

“We’re giving each athlete a combination of events to figure out where their strengths are,” says Daniels.

The girls team is the biggest mystery for Daniels. While on one hand she has seasoned veterans and standout distance runners Sydney Peterson and Maria O’Neal, on the other she has a host of young runners who are still getting their legs underneath them.

For the second week in a row, Peterson and O’Neal dominated the competition, taking the top two spots in both the 800 meters and the 1,600 meters. Peterson won the 800 meters in a time of 2:30.18 with O’Neal close on her heels in second place with a time of 2:31.21. They doubled up in the mile as Peterson ran away with the race, posting a time of 5:30.09, while O’Neal came in second place with a time of 5:43.94, finishing 27 seconds ahead of the girl in third place.

“Sydney and Maria really pushed each other but they are meters, and sometimes laps, ahead of their competition,” says Daniels.

Annalise Chain continues to gain ground as she set a personal record in the mile and the girls 4×200 meter relay team had a solid showing as the coaches and runners look to find the right mix.

“They ran really well and are starting to figure each other out,” says Daniels. “The girls are a young team and they’re coming along.”

The boys team members were scattered throughout a variety of events as their numbers open the door for Daniels to experiment further.

“We have a lot more opportunities to play around with different combinations,” says Daniels.

Joe Coburn, Sully Marshall, Joseph Stock and Vincent Michel teamed up to place fifth in the 4×800 meter relay. Michel then went on to jump into his first two-mile race and post a fourth-place finish.

“He’s going to be a really strong athlete in that event,” says Daniels. “He has the right mindset and he just runs hard.”

Finn Wilson posted a PR in the 800 meters by eight seconds and then both he and Marshall were thrown back into the hurdles mix to score additional team points. Wilson placed seventh in the 110-meter hurdles, while Marshall finished fifth in the 300-meter hurdles.

Tate Young was also thrown into a variety of events, scoring numerous points for the team. Young placed third in the 400 meters and sixth in the 200 meters and then sixth in the long jump.

“He’s really coming alive as a sprinter,” says Daniels.

Meanwhile, teammate Josh Merck took fourth place in the 400 meters and eighth in the 100 meters and then tied his own school record in the long jump to finish fourth and posted an eighth-place finish in the triple jump.

But what Daniels likes most about that crew is what they are bringing to the program as a whole.

“Sully, Finn, Joe, Josh and Tate are really setting a strong tone for the Titans,” says Daniels.

The Titans are scheduled to head to Cedaredge this weekend, but with the way meets are playing out so far, Daniels is looking to find other avenues for competition.

“There’s a big meet in Grand Junction at the same time, so we will take a look at the competition and see if we can switch,” explains Daniels. “We’re a rural school so there are limitations on what we can do.”

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