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Cross country team sets new pace at the Delta Pantherfest

Team headed into regionals

by Than Acuff

Every season, the Titans cross country team looks to start hitting the peak by the Delta Pantherfest with the post-season on the near horizon. The course in Delta is at a lower altitude and offers the chance for the Titan runners to push their limits.

“We’re hoping for good times and fast times,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall.

The young Titan runners answered the call as all seven set new season-best times with four setting new personal records at the Pantherfest on Friday, October 5.

Leading up to the race the Titans got even more of a challenge from their coaches. With the meet set to host numerous programs from throughout Colorado, organizers managed to also host JV races at the meet. And while a majority of the Titans have raced JV when available, the coaches decided to throw all of the boys into the varsity race.

“We decided to line all of them up in the varsity race,” explains Sullivan-Marshall. “We wanted everyone to have the sense of running together.”

Joe Coburn led the way for the boys team. Coburn’s season has been hampered somewhat by illness and sharing the fall months with hockey so he ran his first full race the weekend prior. As a result, the coaches asked him to start out in Delta conservatively and see how it played out. Coburn did just that and still shaved 30 seconds off of his personal record.

“He ran a great race and still had more left in the tank at the end, which tells me when we return to regionals he’ll pop a good result,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

The other five runners had equally solid personal results as they remained close throughout the race and all of the freshmen ran their fastest times to date.

“We got to see how we stack up against the masses and against runners in our region,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It was good information for us.”

Sam Merck was left to run alone as the only Titan girl at the race. Rather than throw her into the mess of a varsity race as a freshman, the coaches had her line up for the JV race and she continued to shave time and gain confidence.

“Her goal was to break 24 minutes and she did,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “Every race she’s looking stronger and more comfortable and, for a freshman, preparing for her races as a mature runner.”

The team will have a couple smaller workouts over the October break and once school resumes, they will set their sights on the regional race back in Delta on Friday, October 19.

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