Saturday, January 18, 2020

Titans cross country closes out regular season

Boys’ team headed to state championships

by Than Acuff

The Titans cross country team came into the season knowing it was a rebuilding year with numbers down from past years and the team pretty young overall. As a result, coaches Laura Daniels, Shari Sullivan-Marshall and Vince Rogers maintained their focus and the focus of their athletes on the long-term, progressing as the season continued.

At the regional race in Delta on Friday, October 19 their focus and the athletes’ hard work over the past eight weeks came to fruition as nearly all of the runners continued to shave time and climb through the ranks, with the boys team earning a spot at the state championships on Saturday, October 27 in Colorado Springs.

The challenge for the Titans boys at the regional race was stout. While the top three qualifying teams were pretty much already decided, there were as many as four teams in the running for the final two spots at state.

“Sometimes kids can get it together and bring their best. Other times they succumb to the pressure,” says Daniels. “We knew if they all ran the way they could, they’d have a shot.”

Fortunately, the team has captains Joe Coburn and Max Faust in place to help keep the Titans on task and help mitigate any potential issues with nerves.

“Joe and Max have been incredible captains and incredible leaders,” says Daniels. “They were both pretty calm and set a really good tone for the team.”

The big surprise of the day came from Joseph Stock. Stock has been sharing time between fall hockey and cross country and had yet to hit his potential in cross country, until regionals. Stock jumped out into the mix of the top 15 runners and ended up picking off more runners throughout the five-kilometer course to place ninth, setting a new personal record (PR) and recording his fastest time of the season by three minutes.

“He found a way to harness the fire and he brought the fire,” says Daniels.

But Stock wasn’t alone, as senior captain Joe Coburn also stepped into the mix in the top 15 with Stock and finished the regional race in 12th place, 10 seconds within his PR.

“They were able to run side-by-side and pushed each other,” says Daniels.

Meanwhile, Faust woke up that day a little under the weather and had to miss the bus ride to the race. As the morning progressed, he recovered and was able to line up and once the gun was fired, he found the gear he needed to post a new PR by 12 seconds and finish in 26th place to help seal the team’s fifth-place finish and a spot at the state championships.

“He was able to rally and felt pretty good once he started running,” says Daniels. “They all stepped up to the challenge instead of caving to the pressure,” says Daniels.

The remaining Titan runners were across the board in their results. Yvon Michel was still nursing an injury and was unable to run and another Titan was forced to drop out of the race. Logan Utz continued his consistency all season into the regional race and Porter Washburn proved he has plenty more to give as he set a new PR by 20 seconds in Delta.

“Porter had a breakout day,” says Daniels.

Samantha Merck was the lone girl running for Crested Butte again. Merck continued her effort that she has been putting out all season as she came close to her PR from just two weeks ago in her final race of the season.

“Samantha did great—it’s tough to run alone,” says Daniels. “She’s improved by over eight minutes this season and we’re super proud of her for that. We’re excited for her future.”

The team will now spend this week staying healthy and preparing as six of the Titans will toe the line in Colorado Springs on Saturday with a seventh Titan boys runner on scene as an alternate.

“The goal was to get the boys to the state meet. What happens at the state meet is gravy,” says Daniels.

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