Titans cross-country opens 2020 season in Alamosa

“It was good to see where their fitness is”

by Than Acuff

The lone surviving fall high school sport for Crested Butte, cross-country, kicked off the truncated 2020 season with a race in Alamosa on Friday, September 4.

While soccer and volleyball were moved from their usual fall slot to a spring season, cross-country was permitted to proceed, but with numerous COVID protocols in place. First and foremost, while cross-country meets typically involve a mass start of as many as 300 runners, this season they are limited to 75 runners in each of the boys’ and girls’ races and required to do so in waves. Secondly, available meets for the Titan cross-country team have also been cut down significantly.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to still run but a lot of the meets we’ve gone to for the past 20 years were shut down,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall.

That said, they did manage to take a full squad to Alamosa and get a sense of where they stood in their workouts.

“It was good to see where their fitness is,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

Overall, the coaches were happy with what they saw out of their runners, both in the JV and varsity races, but it was quite the learning experience for both the athletes and the coaches.

“The mass start is so much fun and there’s energy to it so the wave start will take a little getting used to,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “The wave start creates a different race.”

The girls’ team struggled with the new format as four started but two ended up having to drop out before the finish line.

“Some of them got dragged out too fast, which put them in a deficit in the first mile,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

Nevertheless, while three of the Titan girls struggled, Ruby Pendy made the most of her first cross-country race. Pendy is a Nordic ski racer and decided to join the cross-country team this year as a sophomore. Despite being her first running race, Pendy obviously knows how to compete, covering the five-kilometer course in a time of 22:32 to place eighth.

“It’s an amazing start to her season and has shown she’s such a strong runner,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We were really excited to see how Ruby did.”

The boys’ team had four runners toe the line in Alamosa as well and posted a little more consistently across the board. Connor Williams, a junior transfer student, had a stellar debut as a Titan, placing second at the race with a time of 16:07.30.

“He ran really strong,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “He started out in third place, found his pace and then reeled in second place and almost set a new school record.”

Junior Porter Washburn cracked the 20-minute mark in his first race of the season to place 22nd, with senior Yvon Michel taking 34th place and senior Logan Utz finishing in 37th place.

“The boys had a great showing,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

With the typical cross-country schedule thrown into flux for this year, the Titans will not race again until Saturday, September 19 when they will line up in Gunnison on the course behind the middle school. The races start at 9:30 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.

“I’m excited for this race,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It’s a good course and we tend to drop our times there.”

With the longer break between races, the coaches can continue working with the athletes for another week before race preparations start.

“We’re still working on strength and will start bringing in strength intervals and we can put in some more miles,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

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