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Titans track steps onto podium in Salida

“This is the most dedicated, hard-working crew I’ve coached in a very long time.” 

by Than Acuff

After spending the first part of the season in the little ponds throughout the Western Slope, the Crested Butte Titans track team tested the waters of the big pond at a meet in Grand Junction two weeks ago. And last weekend they found the perfect mix as they headed to Salida and posted several podium results.

“It felt like a pond the right size for our little fish,” says coach Laura Daniels. “We placed well, some kids won and some continued to set personal records so it was a good balance. As athletes, it’s good to see both levels of competition.”

The boys, 21 athletes strong, are starting to find their competitive groove in a variety of events with success in hurdles, distance events, sprints, jumping and relays.

“They had a really great meet,” says Daniels. “We’re figuring out our strongest relay teams, they’re all finding their events, setting goals and finding their place as part of a team. It was cool to see them engage as a team.”

The boys’ relay teams were on fire in Salida as the 4×400 meter team won by 20 meters and the 4×200 meter team won its race at the wire.

“In that kind of race everything matters: from the start, to the handoffs, to running through the finish,” explains Daniels. “They saw how all of the pieces fit together.”

Finn Wilson and Sully Marshall add another piece to the team pie with both athletes scoring team points in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles.

“They both had reservations at the start of the season but at this point they’re stoked on the progression they’ve seen,” says Daniels. “Plus, it’s cool as a team to fill out those events that have typically been left empty.”

Meanwhile, Josh Merck brought points to the table in sprints and jumps, including winning the long jump, while Joe Coburn and Vincent Michel scored in the distance events.

With 21 athletes competing in numerous events, the boys finished the day fifth as a team. Remarkably, the girls’ team has only 10 athletes, yet they still finished fifth as a team as well in Salida.

“We don’t have a lot of girls but the girls we have are powerhouses,” says Daniels.

Maria O’Neal had a standout day in Salida, starting with her effort in the 400 meters where she tied her personal record time and finished in second place.

“For her to be equaling her peak from last year midseason is exciting,” says Daniels.

O’Neal also won the 800 meters with Sydney Peterson right behind her in second place. Peterson went on to win the mile. Corrina Donovan is coming on as a force in hurdles, placing sixth in Salida. The girls’ sprint medley relay placed third in their first time running the event all season and Emelie Elkins tied for first place in the high jump and tied her personal record.

Now comes the April break, the bane of every coach’s existence as the track team will go close to a month until their next full meet.

“Hopefully they can hold on,” says Daniels. “They’ll have a plan for the next few weeks and, as I told them from the start of the season, they’ll get out of it what they put into it.”

Daniels points out two things that are working in the team’s favor this year heading into the April break.

“This is the most dedicated, hard-working crew I’ve coached in a very long time,” says Daniels. “And, most of them are going to Panama with [former track coach] Shari so they’ll have supervised practices there. Those two things combined have me feeling confident.”

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