“All of them had great kicks at the end”
[ by Than Acuff ]
After taking a long break from making the trip to Aspen to compete in the Chris Severy Invitational, the Crested Butte cross-country team returned to the hilly course last weekend to get a taste of a real cross-country course where times are less important.
While the Titans spent the last three races on relatively flat courses in Gunnison, Crested Butte and Delta, Aspen posed a different challenge for the athletes.
“There are literally just two flat sections on the entire course,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall.
As a result, the runners had to shift gears away from their usual attention to the clock and more on the essence of cross-country racing.
“I find it really important to add a course to the schedule where the kids don’t focus on times,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It was really just to race using tactics.”
The girls opened the day at 10 a.m. with Ruby Pendy and Sophia Komarek representing the Titans. Pendy jumped out with the lead pack of seven runners as the leaders traded off time in front up and over all of the climbs and descents. About two-thirds of the way through the race, Pendy lost contact with the lead group but charged through the final section to reel the runners back in and finish in seventh place overall.
“She worked her way back up into the lead group and it was great to see her get that contact back again,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
Komarek had a slightly different race experience out on the course. As Komarek was moving her way into the top 30, she passed a runner down on the course. Komarek turned back to check on her, falling back into the mid-50’s of the field and once she realized her opponent was okay, she turned back around and charged her way back to finish in 28th overall.
“It was really admirable of her,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “She probably passed 20 people after turning around and looked super strong. Her fitness is just coming on.”
The boys were then met with a range of weather for their race starting in windy, cold and drizzly rain before the front passed through and the skies cleared up.
Jake Pendy put his tactics to the test and passed with flying colors. After starting out in the top 20, Pendy moved his way up into 10th place two-thirds of the way through the race and then charged the final mile to cross the finish line in fifth place.
“He made a huge move and raced really well,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It was an amazing effort.”
Cormac Billick raced well to finish the day in 22nd place and Giles Billick kicked hard at the end to pass a bunch of people and finish in 37th place.
“All of them had great kicks at the end,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It was a great day.”
The Titans team will remain smaller than usual with families traveling during the fall break but assistant coach Vince Rogers has the kids that are in town remaining on task and will take six athletes to the conference championships in Monte Vista on Friday, October 15.