“I’m really excited to see how things come together”
by Than Acuff
For 20-plus years, Shari Sullivan-Marshall has been coaching at the Crested Butte Community School, either cross-country or track and field, and she is back at it again this year. She has 34 athletes for the 2023 track and field season, including senior Ruby Pendy, who placed sixth in the 1,600 meters at the state championships last year. The size of the team is larger than Sullivan-Marshall has seen in years, which she attributes to a youth movement.
“This is one of the biggest teams in recent history, we’re up 14 athletes from last year,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “Almost half of the roster is freshmen.”
Sophie Klein joins Sullivan-Marshall as the assistant coach. Klein coached the middle school cross-country team in the fall and comes from a competitive running background as a track athlete at the University of Wisconsin–LaCrosse.
“We complement each other with our strengths and what we work on,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
The team started workouts on February 27, dealing with the typical issue associated with preseason practices for spring sports: snow.
“We were able to get outside once last week on the McCormick Ranch Road and the snowbanks were three feet taller than my tallest kid,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
But it’s nothing new for Sullivan-Marshall, and she and Klein have the typical plan in place to deal with weather, as well as bringing the athletes still trickling in from winter sports up to speed at a healthy pace.
“We do a lot of strength, mobility and activation stuff and building that routine,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We can’t just do one-size-fits-all as more athletes come in from their Nordic, basketball and freeskiing seasons.”
As a result, Sullivan-Marshall is really looking at the first slate of meets throughout March and into April as extensions of their workouts rather than focusing on competition results.
“The meets until the April school break are mostly like practice because we’re really just looking for time on the track,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We’ve had a lot of success in the past in track without consistent use of a track.”
The X factor for the Titans is the size of their track and field team, as Sullivan-Marshall sees an opportunity to stretch their complement of events and the number of competitors within those events.
“Last year we had three jumpers, this year I have four to six kids interested in the high jump, six to eight that want to do long jump and maybe even some throwers and we’re going to be able to put together some really good relays because of our depth,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We’re definitely going to be a more well-rounded team.”
The team looks to get some workouts in the Western Colorado University fieldhouse this week as they prepare for their first events of the year; they head to Montrose on Saturday, March 11, for a scrimmage meet against Montrose and Ouray. The Titans have their first official meet the following weekend in Delta and their schedule is set for success toward the latter part of the season.
“The first half of the meets are some of the higher altitude meets for really good strength work,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “The schedule will definitely allow for fast times and high jumps in May.”
And while Sullivan-Marshall looks forward to getting some athletes into the state championships, with such a young team it is not her primary focus.
“The focus isn’t necessarily on state, it’s PRs (personal records) and growth,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “I’m really excited to see how things come together.”