Titans track team kicking into gear

New coaching staff takes the helm

With 29 athletes out for the Titans track team, the new coaching staff has plenty to work with as they head into the 2009 season.
Head coach Laura Puckett spent 10 years in competitive track programs, including four years running cross-country and track, three years as captain, for Division I program Davidson College.
Assistant coach Angie Maudlin attended the University of Minnesota on a track scholarship for sprinting, coached at a 5A high school in Minnesota and then spent three years coaching at Western State College before joining the Titans program to work with the sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers.
“She’s an amazing athlete and an incredible asset,” says Puckett.
Dustin Simoens ran track in Fruita and is currently attending Western State College and has been brought into the fold to help Puckett out with middle and long distance events.
As is always the case, Puckett found that when the pre-season training started on March 2, the team battled the elements to prepare for the first meet. Nonetheless, Puckett was unfazed.
“As a Minnesota girl, I was prepared for snow and cold,” says Puckett.
Puckett’s philosophy includes leading by example and creating a routine in an effort to generate a team dynamic and build energy for the program.
“We run with the kids, that’s our m.o.,” says Puckett. “We’re not going to ask them to do anything we can’t do. We want to establish a routine and expectations and build up a sense of a team. As much as running is an individual sport, track is a team sport.”
Puckett admits that there is a wide range of ability among the 29 athletes out for the team this year and she and her staff are working with the different groups on a variety of aspects in the opening weeks of the season.
“There’s a lot of different things,” says Puckett. “With some of the endurance kids we’re working on building an endurance base. Other endurance runners came into the season ready, so we’re working on pacing and race strategy with them. And we’re trying to teach form with the sprinters and jumpers.”
The team members got their first taste of competition on Saturday, March 14 at the Delta Invitational, lining up against 17 teams and more than 200 athletes.
The coaching staff took 15 athletes to the first meet with one thing in mind—finding a starting point.
“Our goal was figuring out what the base line is,” says Puckett. “From there we can base the rest of the season.”
Senior Jack Linehan came into the season prepared and it showed in his opening races of the season. Linehan won both the mile and the 800 meters, setting a meet record in the mile with a time of 4:39 and qualifying for states.
He posted a time of 2:07.62 in the 800 meters and is knocking on the door for a state qualifying time in that event.
Sophomore Erin Kelly took fifth place in the mile with a time of 5:37.39 and junior Ricky Sandoval placed sixth in the long jump, setting a new personal record distance of 18 feet, 2 inches.
“I was really pleased with the effort everyone gave,” says Puckett of the first meet.
The team headed to the Mickey Dunn Invitational in Grand Junction on Saturday, March 21.
Linehan and Kelly continued their assault on Colorado track. Kelly placed seventh in the 800 meters with a time of 2:39.95 and third in the mile posting a time of 5:29.73. Linehan scorched the field in the two-mile run, tying a school record time of 10:17, and finished nearly 40 seconds ahead of the field.
With Linehan and Kelly already on course for another successful season on the track, Puckett looks for the rest of the team to pull in behind them and start posting solid results as the season progresses.
“There’s definitely potential,” says Puckett. “I think there’s more team spirit and in terms of getting our feet beneath us it was a good start.”
The Titans are headed to Cedaredge this weekend for the Cedaredge Invitational on Saturday, March 28.

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