Two Titans heading to state meet

Crested Butte charges at regionals

Titan athletes set both personal and school records at regionals last weekend in Grand Junction, with junior Erin Kelly and sophomore Skylar Kraatz qualifying for the 2010 State Track and Field Championships, May 20-22 at Jefferson County Stadium.
Titans track coach Laura Puckett was spot-on in her prediction last week looking ahead to regionals when she said, “They should come out of the blocks fast this week.”
Kelly, who qualified for the state meet earlier this season in the two-mile event, sealed her spot in the mile as well, taking third place in Grand Junction with a time of 5:33.17, her fastest time of the season in the mile.
Kraatz was primed for a standout performance in regionals, shaving time off her 400-meter race all season long.
Her effort came to a head in Grand Junction, where she set a new school record in the preliminaries with a time of 1:02.47, breaking the previous record held by Emma Coburn.
Kraatz followed that up with a third-place finish in the finals to earn her first trip to the big show.
Junior Madeline Malzhan joined Kraatz in the finals and took fifth place with a time of 1:05.28.
“That’s pretty good for someone who doesn’t usually run the 400,” says Puckett.
The 800-meter sprint medley team was on pace to earn themselves a trip to the state meet as well. The team posted exceptional results all season and Puckett saw no reason why they wouldn’t make the cut.
After the opening leg of the relay, the Titans were in a battle for second place with a team from Paonia. The two teams were neck-and-neck the entire race, with the final handoff going to Kraatz. Kraatz kept pace with Paonia and the two teams crossed in a photo finish.
“It was awesome, it was epic to watch,” says Puckett. “They were a second faster than the school record.”
 But as timers convened to sort it out, a protest was filed by another team’s coach, who claimed that one of the Titans’ runners was running alongside Kraatz on the infield and accused them of “pacing.” A teammate can cheer but not run alongside their teammate for more than three steps or else they are “pacing.”
A handful of race officials agreed and the Titans team was disqualified, denying them a trip to the state meet and a school record.
The sprint medley race was early in the two-day meet and could have easily thrown the team off but they rallied for a string of strong finishes the rest of the event.
“It’s a hard, heartbreaking way to learn a lesson,” says Puckett. “But they were still able to put in some awesome performances.”
Case in point, the 4×100-meter team. Kraatz joined forces with juniors Melanie Whiting and Karleigh Dean and sophomore Toni Brown in the 4×100-meter relay posting a time of 54.45 to place fifth and set a new school record.
“As a coach, when kids are setting school records you’re ecstatic,” says Puckett.
The girl’s 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800-meter relay teams all had outstanding races as well.
Sophomore Shelby Kopf was called upon to replace Kelly in the 4×800 relay. Running with Malzhan, junior Sarah Rochniak and freshman Amber Scott, the four girls ran the fastest time of the season to place seventh.
“All of the teams ran their fastest, or close to their fastest, times of the season,” says Puckett.
Scott went on to finish fifth in the two-mile race and Dean rallied to set a personal record time in the 100-meter dash to reach the finals heat and place eighth.
Senior Ricky Sandoval closed out his high school track career with a seventh-place finished in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash and an eighth-place finish in the long jump.
Puckett, Kelly and Kraatz are now focusing on the state meet May 20-22. It’s Kelly’s third trip to the state championships in as many years and she is the reigning 2A state champion in the two-mile event.
With all their training in place, Puckett will spend the week keeping Kraatz and Kelly focused in preparation for states.
“Right now we’re just keeping them sharp,” says Puckett. “All of the work has been done.”

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