Rack up nine podiums
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans track team made another trip to the 2A state championships last week, competing at Jeffco Stadium Thursday through Saturday, May 17-19. It’s nothing new, really, as they always qualify at least a handful, if not more, to state. But what was new this year was the rate of success at the championships as the Titans posted nine podiums out of 15 possible chances.
Coach Laura Daniels feels it was a combination of things that led to their success. Preparation was part of it, but as she points out, most athletes are prepared by the time they get to the big show. It’s just a matter of who can put all the training and preparation together when it counts.
“Performing is not always a question of preparation,” explains Daniels. “There’s a lot of pressure at the state championships and the kids need to be more independent most of the time, as coaches are barely allowed on the field. This group of kids was really able to rise to the occasion, do what they had to do and they kept their nerves in check.”
Not only did they step up to one of the top nine spots on the podium in numerous events, but also nearly every single Titan put in their best effort of the season.
“In nearly every one of their events, they set personal records [PR] and climbed in the final rankings,” says Daniels. “I think that speaks volumes to their mindset and competitive attitude.”
Sydney Petersen and Maria O’Neal ran point for the Titans girls team as they each competed in four events, somewhat of an anomaly at the state championships.
“It’s common for athletes to do two or three events. It’s not common to do four events,” says Daniels.
Not only that, but the two athletes reached the podium in every one of their events to help pace the girls team to a seventh-place finish overall.
Petersen finished her final run as a high school athlete placing second in the two mile, third in the mile and seventh in the 800 meters, and she was part of the 4×800-meter relay team that finished third.
“Those were the best results she’s ever had at state,” says Daniels.
O’Neal also wrapped up her high school career in style. She stomped her way to a fourth-place finish in the 800 meters, dropping five seconds off of her previous PR, placed sixth in the 400 meters and seventh in the mile and was also a part of the third-place 4×800-meter relay team.
“She had an amazing meet,” says Daniels. “She was focused and confident and I’m super proud of her.”
O’Neal’s effort leading off the 4×800 meter team was tantamount to their success as she handed the baton to Annalise Chain. Chain maintained in her first state race experience to pass off to Corinna Donovan, who dropped the hammer, setting Petersen up for a strong finish and third place, taking 15 seconds off of their PR.
“They ran their tails off,” says Daniels.
And while the girls had a top-tier showing, Daniels was especially impressed with her boys, specifically the 4×200 and 4×400-meter relay teams. Josh Merck, Woody Martineau, Walker Carroll and Tate Young teamed up to run both events and exceeded all expectations. They barely made it out of the qualifying round in the 4×200-meters, placing ninth to earn the last spot in the finals, only to step up to the line in the final heat and place fifth when it was over.
“They just ran faster,” says Daniels. “It’s such a fast relay and every step counts, the start counts and handoffs all count.”
They entered the 4×400-meter relays ranked 15th in the state and finished eighth in the qualifier heat to earn a spot in the finals. Then, once the finals came as the last event of the final day, the Titans lit it up to place fifth, four seconds faster than qualifiers and set a new school record.
“They blew it open in the finals. Every one of them just poured it on,” says Daniels. “They had a lot of time on the track by then and I can’t help but think they just felt ready and calm.”
Young went on to tack on another podium finish with an eighth-place in the high jump.
The boys 4×800-meter team of Martineau, Joe Coburn, Finn Wilson and Sully Marshall also laid it all out but missed the podium by one spot, finishing in 10th place.
“They fought hard and I’m really proud of those guys,” says Daniels.
Daniels always knew this team of Titans had the potential for such a season. It really came down to them and they answered the call.
“I think I always saw their potential, it was just a question of if we would realize it,” says Daniels. “This team has been pretty awesome from the get-go and willing to work hard.”