“It came down to the wire for some things”
by Than Acuff
The weeks of training, the weekends of racing and the hours of driving will now come to a head for nine Crested Butte Titans track and field athletes as they head to the 2A state championships at Jeffco Stadium, Thursday through Saturday, May 16-18.
The top 18 ranked athletes in each event make the cut and while some Titans were well under the cutoff, a handful more had one last shot as the team headed to the Tiger Invite in Grand Junction Friday and Saturday, May 10-11.
The Tiger Invite is a showcase of some of the top talent from the Western Slope and beyond, and the meet spreads over two days. For the Titans it’s a chance to bring a nice close to the regular season and open their eyes to the energy and process of the state championships.
“I wanted to do something bigger and special to celebrate the season,” says coach Laura Puckett Daniels. “And I wanted to get someone like Josh [Merck] the experience of a two-day event.”
For some Titans, the meet was one last shot to punch their ticket to Jeffco as both the girls 4×400-meter relay team and Joe Coburn were on the cusp, and whether or not they made the cut would come down to their races at the Tiger Invite.
“It came down to the wire for some things,” says Daniels.
Sarah Bivens, Sam Merck, Marlowe Desmarais and Lucy Duryea stepped up to the challenge in the 4×400 as they ended up posting a time nine seconds faster than the week before, moving up from the 19th seed to the 12th seed when all was said and done.
“That totally changed the game for them,” says Daniels.
Coburn’s effort was equally impressive. After gaining ground all season long, Coburn saved his best for his final shot as he ran a personal record (PR) time in Grand Junction to earn his first trip to the state championships in his final year of high school running.
“I am super proud of him,” says Daniels. “It had to be a PR to get in. It’s cool for a guy who has worked so hard for so long.”
Eme Elkins was one of the bigger surprises of the day. She has been stepping up her game in the high jump but had a very outside shot at securing her spot at state. Once the final declarations were made though from all of the 2A programs, Elkins had jumped high enough to join her teammate Sam in the high jump event this weekend.
Bivens was looking strong for qualifying in the 800 meters prior to the Grand Junction race but she sealed the deal after setting a new PR.
As for Josh, he’s been in the top eight of the 100, 200 and 400 meters as well as the long jump so his spots were firmly in place. Ty Sherman will be joining him in the field events as Sherman qualified in the triple jump.
But that wasn’t all from the Tiger Invite as the team as a whole put the finishing touches to their seasons in fine fashion. Porter Washburn, Logan Utz, Lance Mitchell, Grayson White, Hilt Freeman and Caden Reynolds all posted PRs in their events.
Hayes Freeman helped the sprint medley set a PR while Kate Sherman set a PR in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles, Myles Cress closed out the season with her first 800 meter race and Mia Hill came within inches of her PR in the shot put.
Meanwhile, Newman ran her fastest 200 meters and 400 meters to date and will be called upon to fill in for Sam in the girls 4×400-meter relay this weekend.
“Everyone set a goal and really showed up physically and mentally prepared to do their best,” says Daniels. “I think everyone felt they tried their best and had a good time.”
Now it’s state time as nine Titans are headed to the big show. Daniels believes that making it there for a lot of the young athletes is enough but also sees one Titan in particular as having a shot at the podium.
“For most of them toeing the line is a win,” says Daniels. “There are little expectations, just to go for it. However, there’s also Josh. The focus for him is getting to the finals in all four events and standing on that podium and looking to set some school records. I hope we set him up right but only time will tell.”