Girls’ team takes third, Ian Boucher fifth
Crested Butte cross-country coaches Connie Hayden and Shari Sullivan-Marshall had just one thing to say to their Titan runners prior to the state championship race on Saturday, October 30: “Trust the training and go for it.”
Across the board, they did, as six of the seven Titans set personal record (PR) times on the brutal Aurora course.
“It was a really hard course,” says Hayden. “The fact that so many got PRs on that course is amazing. They peaked at exactly the right time.”
Charging the hills and dodging rattlesnakes, the girls team placed third, just two points out of second, and freshman Ian Boucher dug deep to kick his way into a fifth-place finish with freshman teammate Forrest Smith taking 31st, the third freshman overall.
Hayden points to Boucher’s race as the race of the day for the Titans.
Boucher came in with his sights set on a top-10 finish but as the race wore on, it was looking grim for the young Titan. After settling into 11th place, Boucher hit a wall.
“Going into the bottom of the last monster hill, Ian wasn’t looking that good,” says Hayden.
Boucher gritted his way up the hill to hold his place and as the pitch let up, Boucher made his move. He started accelerating at the top of the hill and proceeded to pass six other runners in the final 250 meters to cross in fifth place, posting his fastest career time of 17 minutes, 52 seconds.
“When he got to the top he just dug so deep and so hard,” says Hayden. “He called up all the speed work we’ve been doing all season.”
Furthermore, he was the only freshman in the top 15 runners.
“It’s absolutely unheard of to have a freshman in the top 10,” explains Hayden. “He was surrounded by juniors and seniors.”
The Titan girls finished the regular season ranked third in the state. Regardless, Hayden kept her prediction conservative going into the championships looking for a top-five finish from her team knowing inside, top-three would be easily attainable.
“It’s what I secretly expected,” admits Hayden, “but to be so close to second was a surprise.”
Senior captain Erin Kelly posted the top Titans girls result, just as she has the past two years.
She made her first trip to the big show as a freshman and made her mark at the state level in 2008 as a sophomore. From then on she has battled with Kelly Robinson from Nederland for 2A state supremacy.
As a sophomore she placed second behind Robinson. She returned the individual state title to Titan hands last year as a junior beating Robinson in the championships.
While it was Kelly’s fourth trip to the state championships, she admits the nerves never go away.
“I think there’s more pressure every year,” says Kelly, “but you’re excited too because you get a chance to get it done.”
This year, Kelly followed the same protocol that took her to first place last year: start fast and hold. Her plan was in effect as she carried the lead for the first mile and a half, but Robinson made her move and Kelly let her go.
“That’s my one big regret of the race,” says Kelly. “I wish I had sprinted the 150 meters to get back up with her. I learned a good lesson, it was just a hard way to learn it.”
“Erin went out really fast, that was her plan,” adds Hayden. “Halfway through the race, Kelly made her move and Erin just couldn’t hang on.”
Still, Kelly closed out her Titans high school cross-country career in fine fashion with the second place finish completing the five-kilometer course in a time of 19 minutes, 30 seconds.
That comes to a total of one state title and two second-place finishes in four trips to states.
Sophomore teammate Amber Scott had some unfinished business at the state championships. Scott was on fire last year as a freshman and qualified for the state race but a stress facture at the end of the season sidelined her for the final race.
As a result, Scott was determined to make the most of her first championship race. She survived a bout of pre-race jitters to line up and charge off the start line with the state’s top runners.
“Her goal was to go out fast and stick with the front runners as long as she could,” says Hayden. “Once the gun went off, she went into her zone.”
Scott settled into 11th place for most of the race before pushing into ninth with one final kick on the home stretch, posting a personal record time of 20 minutes, 28 seconds.
“It was a bit of redemption for her,” says Hayden.
Sophomore Abby Whiting and freshman Mina Moscatelli were handed a goal of top 20 in their inaugural state race. The two followed two different game plans to reach for said goal as Whiting charged off the start while Moscatelli hung back in the pack.
Whiting managed to hang on to finish 18th with a PR time of 21 minutes, 39 seconds. Moscatelli found her pace after the first mile weaving her way up from 50th place but fell just shy of her goal to place 22nd with a PR of 21 minutes, 55 seconds.
“She started out timid but she found her groove after the first mile marker,” says Hayden. “She just picked off person after person after person.”
Once again, sophomore Taylor O’Neal was handed a surprise. After being called upon two days prior to the regional race to fill in for an injured Hannah Smith, Hayden called on her again two days before the state race. O’Neal took the challenge with little hesitation to post a PR time of 24 minutes, 17 seconds and place 50th.
“She ran as an alternate again and she rose to the occasion,” says Hayden.
While Kelly’s performance was in the cards, barring any major catastrophes, Hayden was blown away by the effort of the other four Titan girls.
“For the four of them to rally in their state debut and how they rose to the challenge was amazing,” says Hayden. “You can’t teach that. Whether or not they show up is up to them. I can’t wait for next year.”
As a majority of the Titans now shift focus to winter sports, including Boucher, who has a promising Nordic racing season ahead of him. Kelly looks forward to the Foot Locker regional and possible national races this fall.
In addition, she has a college decision to make with Division I programs University of Iowa, Portland University and University of Colorado all interested in her.
“I’m excited about that and to take it to the next level,” says Kelly.