Titans look to rally through to state

Return to action with strong showing in Gunnison

It had been three weeks since the Titans track team last competed, including a week off from all team workouts for spring break. The track coaching staff asked their athletes to stay up on their training during the break, and while some heeded their suggestion, others opted otherwise. As a result, when the team returned to workouts last Monday, the coaches were met with a mixed bag of intensity.
“They were pretty scattered coming out of break,” says head coach Laura Puckett.
The team had just five days to prepare for their only meet of the season in the valley, the Gunnison Invitational on Saturday, April 21. The Titans trickled in from break, both physically and psychologically, with some missing practice on Monday and Tuesday while others took most of the week to get their heads back into the season.
An interval workout on Tuesday gave Puckett and her staff the clearest sign of who maintained their intensity during the week off. While some proved they were still on schedule for the season, other Titan athletes were gasping for air.
“It was a hard week for the team,” admits Puckett. “Some of the kids were not focused.”
One major aspect of the Gunnison meet that the team and coaches did have in their favor was its location. Puckett believes her athletes were excited to prove themselves in their only “home” meet and the kids responded by the time Saturday rolled around.
“They really stepped it up,” says Puckett. “They applied the knowledge we had given them over the past six weeks and we were able to coach them through their races rather than babysit them.”
The coaches did have some juggling to do on the road to the Gunnison meet. With some athletes missing practices leading up to the weekend, Puckett had to shuffle some runners around into new events to fill out relay teams. Middle distance runners found themselves in sprint relays and sprinters found themselves in distance relays.
“It was a little patchy, but by and large, the substitutions worked out very well,” says Puckett.
Case in point, the girls’ 4×200 relay team. Lindsey Kopf, who typically runs in the 400 and 800 meter races, was called in to join Suzanna Dumas, Skylar Kraatz and Brittany Barefield on the 4×200 team in Gunnison.
Despite not working together all season, the girls rallied to post a time of 1:54.34, setting a new school record and posting the eighth-fastest time in the state this year among 2A schools.
The girls’ 4×100 team of Monika Olesen, Brittany Barefield, Suzanna Dumas and Ali McGuire posted their fastest time this year, just .4 seconds off the school record, to place fourth in Gunnison. They’re ranked ninth in the state. The girls’ 4×800 relay team placed third.
Kraatz continues to shave time off in the 400 meters, posting a time of 1:02.76 in Gunnison to place sixth and bring her within .5 seconds of the school record.
Amber Scott has turned the corner this year in her effort in the mile. Scott ran with the second group of girls for the first three laps of the mile before kicking into the home stretch to take second place with a time of 5:44.49. Scott is now ranked sixth in the state with that time.
“This race she really came back,” says Puckett. “Her heart was in it and her head was in it.”
Sara Sherman’s diligent work all season in the discus finally paid off in Gunnison as she set a new school record with a toss of 25’10.5”.
If the girls’ times in the relays and distance events stand for the next three weeks, Puckett believes they could be making a trip to the big show as an entire team.
“Right now, the entire girls’ team could go to state,” says Puckett.
The boys’ team got a big shot in the arm from the return of Ian Boucher as he came back off an injury to race in his first meet all season.
“Having Ian back really solidified the boys’ team for us,” says Puckett.
Boucher brings another weapon to the Titans’ boys’ distance runners, joining forces with Forrest Smith and Matt Galley in the 800 meters and mile races.
“To have three boys who can run as fast as those three gives us a leg up,” says Puckett.
Boucher, Galley, Smith and Michael Ryan teamed up to place third in a hotly contested 4×800 relay race.
“It was a fight to the finish line,” says Puckett.
Boucher went on to place sixth in the mile with a time of 4:51.86, a time that proves Boucher is closer to last season’s form than initially expected.
“To come back and run that strong is really good,” says Puckett.
Kyle Boyle is leading the team in his own way with 100 percent effort in each practice and every meet since the start.
“Kyle has been right on track since the beginning,” says Puckett. “He’s much stronger and his form is much better. He’s leading the boys sprinters this year.”
Boyle posted personal record (PR) times in both the 200 meters and 400 meters to place fifth and seventh respectively in Gunnison.
Jet McGuire and Liam Mortell joined Boyle in the PR department as they set new PRs in the discus by more than 20 feet.
The Titans head to a new meet and face a mix of new and old foes Saturday, April 28 when they travel to Alamosa for the High Altitude Challenge.

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