Josh Merck and Sarah Bivens step on podium
by Than Acuff
Coach Laura Puckett Daniels started the season with a roster rife with young athletes and a new training program in place. She admits that she thought only one of her athletes would be making it all of the way to the state championships.
Last weekend, after a season of training, inside and out, and staying true to the coaching and training plan, nine Titans ended up at the 2A state championships at Jeffco Stadium with two of them stepping onto the podium when all was said and done.
“I was psyched to bring that many kids,” says Daniels.
The trip for the Titans to state did have a mix of expectations. While a podium was in reach for a couple, the main goal for several other Titans was accomplished in just getting there and the experience alone was the finishing touch on their season.
The girls 4×400-meter relay team underwent a last-minute switch to their line up. Sarah Bivens, Sam Merck, Marlowe Desmarais and Lucy Duryea set a new personal record the week before the state finals to make the cut. Due to a conflict though, Merck was unable to race in the relay at the state meet and Stella Newman was called on to fill the spot. Newman ran her fastest 400 meters of her season and the other three pulled together a relatively flawless race, but their final time in preliminaries left them shy of making the finals.
“They are a young team with three out of four of them having never been to state,” says Daniels. “We were super proud of their effort, poise under pressure and super excited for the future because they are so young.”
Merck was able to compete in the high jump along with Eme Elkins and they both reached their top height for the season, which is all Daniels could really ask.
Ty Sherman has come a long way through his high school track career and made it to the big show in the triple jump. Unfortunately, he didn’t have his best day at state, finishing 17th.
“He made it to state and it’s been cool to see his growth—it just was not his best day,” says Daniels.
Joe Coburn posted a personal record to make the cut for the state finals in the mile and was just a couple of seconds off that time in his final race, finishing his race in 15th place.
“He trained to peak at the final race in Grand Junction and to just qualify,” explains Daniels. “It’s hard to repeat and set another personal record when you are at your peak. He still ran a bold and gutsy race.”
Josh Merck was in the mix throughout the weekend. As he qualified in four separate events, hopes were high for numerous showings in the finals. In the end, he missed the finals in three events but stayed focused through it all. “He is so level-headed so he doesn’t get rattled,” says Daniels. “He just continues to learn from his experiences.”
It was in the 400 meters that Josh hit his mark. He opened the weekend on Thursday setting a new personal record and school record time of 51:17 to make it to the finals and then placed seventh in the final race for a spot on the podium.
“He’s been shooting for that for years, so it was really exciting,” says Daniels.
Bivens was a bit of a wild card in the 800 meters. While there was talk of making the finals, Daniels wanted her experience as a freshman to be free of specific goals.
“We didn’t have a lot of expectations. We just wanted her to be free to run her race,” says Daniels.
They came up with a race plan, Bivens followed it exactly, and that coupled with her effort led to her making it onto the podium, finishing ninth place overall.
“The race was full of speed, moves and maneuvering,” says Daniels. “Trying her best and following the race plan got her to her ‘reach’ goal of the podium.”
Ultimately, everyone came away from the weekend with something to be psyched about, including Daniels.
“There were some high highs and the rest had a great weekend,” says Daniels. “They all should be really proud of what they did.”