Crested Butte high school Titans prepare for fall sports action

Jump into action this weekend

The Crested Butte Community School Titans sports teams open the fall season of contests this week after pushing through the rigors of the preseason. While all teams have a core of seniors returning, there also appears to be a pretty big youth movement eager to take up the reigns, if not this year, then in the years to come.

Cross-Country
The cross-country team has 20 athletes out this fall led by a total of nine seniors. And while experience is always key with any sport, head coach Connie Hayden is more enthusiastic about how everyone came into the preseason this year.
“Of all my years coaching, this is the most fit squad I’ve had,” says Hayden. “With some of the kids we can pick up where we left off last season and with others we can push them harder than we ever have. We can have fun with them and make them hurt more.”
The boys’ team has a bit of a target on their backs after placing third in state last year. Not one runner from that team graduated and therefore preseason polls has them ranked second in the state.
Seniors Forrest Smith, Kyle Boyle and Danny D’Aquila are the captains with senior rookie Skye Salley joining in this season. In addition, sophomore Aiden Truettner, also from the third place team last year, is back. Sophomores Ben Swift, Conrad Truettner, junior Joe Hayes and freshman Matthew Harper-Johnson will make up the JV squad.
“They’re all coming in fit,” says Hayden. “It’s obvious they put some time in over the summer.”
The girls team will be led by captains Mina Moscatelli and Mara McLaughlin with seniors Elizabeth Kilpatrick and Josie Byron adding additional experience. The biggest aspect of the girls’ team this year is their level of talent across the board. While in years past the team has had one, maybe two, standout runners. This year, Hayden and assistant coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall have five runners at the top with seniors Shannon Costello and Moscatelli as well as sophomores Tara Mortell, Sam Crossett and Bradley Santelli all pushing the pace.
“For the first time in four years we have a ‘pack’ situation,” explains Hayden. “Those girls have been working so well together in practice pushing each other but also encouraging each other. Every one of them wants to be the top dog.”
Hot on the heels of the Fantastic Five will be sophomores Sienna Brooks and Ryan Carroll.
The cross-country team kicks into gear this Friday, August 30 at the Delta Invitational at which point the coaching staff will get a glimpse into exactly what they have to work with.
“Delta will give us a good baseline measurement,” says Hayden. “We’re super excited to get them on the line Friday and see what happens.”
Volleyball
Head coach Marla Covey has a similar situation with her volleyball team. Among the 25 players out this season, seven are seniors bringing in a wealth of experience.
“It’s a lot of seniors and how it plays out can go either way,” explains Covey. “I can’t start all of them so there’s a couple seniors that will have to find roles on the team. Hopefully they’ll be able to contribute to the team in some way.”
Furthermore, Covey and coach Heather Perry have a slew of freshmen that may move up in the squad once they get their feet wet at the high school level.
“There’s some talent in that freshmen class,” says Covey. “I’m hoping a few underclassmen get experience in the coming weekend so I can start bringing them into varsity.”
The good news, again just like in cross-country, is that experience makes for some quality preseason workouts and the numbers were strong from day one.
“Overall the attendance was better than normal and I think we’re a little further ahead than usual,” says Covey. “If you can get a majority of the team on the same page going into the season, that’s huge.”
The coaching staff got a look at their team in competition last weekend as they headed to Montrose for a series of preseason matches and, overall, Covey was pleased with what she saw.
“The scrimmages went well,” says Covey. “They got stronger as the day wore on and in the final matches we got some really good blocks, our defense stepped up and had some good long rallies.”
In addition, Covey felt the team as a whole served strong all day and hopes to use that, and defense, as a foundation for success.
“We don’t have a lot of height so we’re going to have to rely on defense,” explains Covey. “If you can serve and play good defense, you can do pretty well. Hopefully, we’ll prove to be a pretty scrappy team.”
The varsity team opens the regular season with five matches in Cripple Creek on Saturday, August 30 while the JV will spend the day in Montrose.
“It’s a really long day,” says Covey. “I always set the bar high. If we walk away 4-1 or 5-0, it’s a good start to the season.”

Soccer
The Titans soccer team saw the biggest jump in numbers this season with 32 kids out, including 11 freshmen. With coach Mike Martin off to Texas, head coach Than Acuff called on Drew Canale to move from goalkeeper coach to assistant and asked Mike Eaton to help corral the huge squad and work on honing their soccer acumen.
“The numbers at the younger ages are unprecedented,” says head coach Than Acuff. “Its an exciting time for Titans soccer.”
“They’ve got a lot of energy but it’s a bit raw and needs to be more refined,” adds coach Canale.
They opened the season with their Midnight Madness workout and jumped into two sessions a day for two weeks to bring the team up to speed as quickly as possible. While some came into the season prepared, others were a bit off the back forcing the coaching staff to return to basics.
“Two-a-days went very well,” says Canale. “A handful worked out and kicked the ball this summer but a majority did not. There was quite a bit of rust. We worked on fitness and touches and we still have a lot of work to do.”
The team will be led by a core group of seniors in captains Prawit Durgan and Ian Dethloff and Dakota Wiggins and Solon Gray. The biggest test will be for the junior class of five players whose effort will determine whether or not the team sees success this season.
“The junior class is strong,” says Acuff. “If we want to reach our goals, we’ll need them to bring their game to a new level.”
The Titans got their first test on Saturday as they headed to Canon City for some preseason scrimmages. After a slow start, the team gelled throughout the course of the day giving the coaching staff a good indication of where the team stands on the field.
“They came together throughout the day and played better soccer by the end,” says Canale.
Coach Canale shied away from specific goals but reiterated some basic ones for the team.
“Our goal every year is to finish well in our league and qualify for state,” says Canale. “The goal for the underclassmen is to compete for a spot on the varsity squad.”
The varsity heads to Colorado Springs for a preseason tournament Friday and Saturday, August 30-31. Their first home match will be Friday, September 6 when they host Pagosa Springs.

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