On pace for stellar second half of season
The Crested Butte Titans cross-country team was put to the test this week with two meets two days apart, and the squad passed with flying colors
It all began for the Titans with a trip to the Front Range to compete in the Air Kadet Invitational in Colorado Springs on Thursday, September 17.
The meet attracted 289 boys and 201 girls from up and down the Front Range, including numerous runners from 4A and 5A schools.
While the competition was stout, coach Connie Hayden saw the meet as an opportunity for her squad to preview the competition that they may see later in the season.
“We were hoping to size up the Front Range competition for, hopefully, the state meet as well as our meet in Limon coming up,” says Hayden. “It really gave the girls and boys a chance to compare.”
In the end, the Titan runners rose to the occasion feeding off the energy to post solid results and gain a boost for the rest of the season.
“It gave them so much more confidence,” says Hayden.
Senior Nicholas Harper-Johnston was one of two Titan boys to make the trek and he made the most of the experience placing eighth with a time of 19:05 on the five-kilometer course.
The girls had the team race of the season thus far with four girls scoring to place the Titans 11th out of more than 20 teams, and third among similar size schools.
It was a personal record festival for the girls as individuals with four of the five girls setting their fastest times to date.
Junior Hannah Smith led the girls’ team taking 12th place with a time of 22:48.
But the big story came from the rest of the squad. Freshman Amber Scott came in 19th place among the Front Range giants, third among the freshman, posting a time of 23:23 and shaving 27 seconds off her previous best time.
Furthermore, sophomore Shelby Knopf set her personal record time of 25:45, sophomore Jessie D’Aquila “whopped” 45 seconds off her fastest time running the five-kilometers in 26 minutes flat and junior Jena D’Aquila posted a time of 26:22, more than a minute faster than her previous personal record.
The Titans then returned to the Gunnison Valley to race in the Cowboy Cross Country Invitational in Gunnison on Saturday, September 19.
Athletes were met with “spongy” conditions on the new course as they worked their way through a freshly mowed hayfield subjected to massive amounts of rain.
Hayden had her team working on pacing and put their efforts to work in Gunnison.
“We’ve been working really hard on sustaining pace,” explains Hayden. “It really showed in this race. Pacing is such a mind game and they were able to wrap their heads around that.”
Junior Erin Kelly returned to action for the Titans and picked up right where she left off at her last meet, running away with the lead to take first place in a time of 21:06.
Smith had another stellar showing just two days after her effort in Colorado Springs, finishing in 12th place; Scott placed 17th and Jena D’Aquila came through in 35th, scoring key points to help push the girls team into a third-place finish overall.
Harper-Johnston brought in a lot of the mud off the course, finishing in 15th place.
The Titans head to Ridgway on Friday, September 25 for the classic Ramble at the Reservoir, a course known for one hill in particular.
As a result, Hayden will have the team preparing much like they did for the Leadville race—hills.
“They gain a lot of strength from hill running, so this is an opportunity to work on strength,” says Hayden.