“It worked to our advantage and we’re really glad we did”
by Than Acuff
After back-to-back tough races the past two weeks, the Crested Butte Titans cross-country team headed to the Pantherfest Invitational in Delta on Friday, October 4 to get a sense for their speed and, in the end, it appears they are on pace for a strong finish to the year.
The Pantherfest attracted programs from throughout the state of various sizes with 200 runners lining up for both the boys and girls races. As a result, organizers split it into two races, a varsity and JV race, to help accommodate the crowded course conditions.
“We moved our runners into the JV race rather than line them up against the bigger 5A teams,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall.
Instead of having the Titan runners getting lost among the bigger schools, the JV race provided an opportunity for them to find their rhythm among their peers and then use that to push themselves. In the end, all six Titan runners set a new personal record time or a season’s-best time in Delta.
“It worked to our advantage and we’re really psyched we did,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “They had a lot of competition to work off of.”
The Titan girls kicked things off with Sam Merck and Stella Reinhardt both setting new personal marks. Reinhardt continues to shave massive amounts of time off in her first year of running high school cross-country as she set another personal record (PR) time in Delta.
“It was her third PR of the season and she has taken well over two minutes off her time from her first race this year,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “She’s just getting stronger and faster.”
Merck will be missing the remainder of the season but wrapped up her sophomore year posting a season’s best time in Delta.
“She was almost two minutes faster than her time a week ago,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “To finish with a season’s best time is great.”
Porter Washburn led the way for the Titan boys team. Three weeks ago he cracked the 20-minute mark on the standard 5-kilometer course but had trouble reaching that again at his races in Ridgway and Salida. In Delta, Washburn returned to break the 20-minute barrier posting a PR time of 19:37 and finish in eighth place.
“He ran really competitively and battled to hold his eighth-place finish,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
George Aklan is close to joining Washburn in the sub-20 club as he took another two minutes off his PR time from last week to place 17th with a time of 20:19. Jude Eaton joined the PR party taking more than 30 seconds off of his previous best time with an exceptional effort in the final stretches of the race.
“He had a great finish, passing three or four runners in the final 200 meters,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
Meanwhile, Yvon Michel continues to chip away time as he looks to peak with the post-season on the near horizon as he also posted a season’s-best time in Delta.
“It was a great meet,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “All six ran their fastest times of the season. Plus, a lot of our region was there so we got to see where we stand. I’m excited for the regional meet.”
Before they get there though, they’ve got one more race this Friday, October 11 when they head to a new course in Monte Vista. While the team will be missing Merck, they should get two more runners back off of the injured reserves as they close out the regular season and look forward to regionals.