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Titans track hurdles into the big G.J. pond

“All of the relay teams posted, by far, their season-best”

by Than Acuff

After spending the first three weekends of the season competing in smaller scale meets, the Crested Butte Titans track team jumped into the big pond last weekend competing in the Mickey Dunn Invitational in Grand Junction on Saturday, March 31.

The Mickey Dunn Invitational is one of the larger meets on the Colorado track scene, drawing 24 programs, including several from the Front Range, and more than 1,000 athletes. And while it’s hard for a 2A-sized program like the Titans to compete against the larger schools, most of which actually have a track to train on, the event does provide a venue for the Titans to push themselves and see what they are capable of.

“We went to Grand Junction to see a higher level of competition and take advantage of a really nice facility at a lower altitude,” explains head coach Laura Daniels. “It’s good to see new folks and we were surrounded by some amazing athletes and we were really pleased with what we got to see.”

In the end, several of the Titan athletes rose to the challenge, posting strong results and setting new personal records (PR).

“It was awesome,” says Daniels. “We had 16 individual PRs and we only have 31 kids on the team.”

The big challenge was thrown into the lap of distance stand-out Sydney Peterson. So far this season, Peterson has run away from her opponents, oftentimes by as much as an entire lap, in the two-mile race in the smaller meets but found the right level of competition in Grand Junction to challenge her.

Peterson found herself in a battle for the entire eight laps of the two-mile race before eventually crossing the line in fifth place with a new PR time of 11:45.65, a full eight seconds faster than her previous mark.

“It was great for her to have people to chase and race and run away from,” says Daniels. “She had a plan, stuck to it and ran a smart race and held on to her position. She wasn’t coasting by any means.”

While Peterson’s effort was tops among individual results for the girls team, several other runners had standout performances as well. Maria O’Neal was just 4/10ths of a second off her PR time in the mile, to place 15th, Annalise Chain dropped 20 seconds off of her previous PR time in the mile and Marlowe Desmarais tested the mid-distance events to post a strong showing in the 400 meters.

The boys had their hands full with the level of competition as well but followed suit with several stand-out performances on a personal level. Tate Young led the way in the individual running events as he posted a seventh-place finish in the 400 meters, shaving off a second from his previous best time. He’s currently ranked second in the state among 2A runners. Vincent Michel, Sully Marshall, Woody Martineau and Finn Wilson teamed up to slash 20 seconds off their previous 4×800 meter time to place eighth in Grand Junction. Then Young, Marshall, Martineau and Josh Merck closed the meet, placing eighth in the 4×400 meter relay.

“That was super impressive at the end of the day,” says Daniels. “All of the relay teams posted, by far, their season’s best.”

Meanwhile, Marshall and Wilson continue to make strides in the hurdle events and Walker Carroll has been all over the place in events and is starting to find his mojo in a handful of them.

“He’s really coming on and it’s good to see him in several different things,” says Daniels. “He will be a linchpin in the relays.”

The exposure to the bigger track world paid off in spades and continued the team’s development as they look ahead to the second half of the season.

“Overall it’s been cool to see everyone figure out their role on the team and the entire team has come really far,” says Daniels.

The Titans will head to Salida this weekend for continued competition before they pause for the upcoming April break.

“We’re hoping for a really strong meet going into the April break,” says Daniels.

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