“The kids were just rising to the occasion”
By Than Acuff
With the state championships on the near horizon, the Crested Butte Titans track team continues to put their best foot forward as they are not only looking to send some athletes to the 2A championships, but also finish the season at the top of their game, whether they make it to the championships or not.
The Cañon City Blossom Invitational on Friday, May 5 provided just that opportunity as the meet drew several schools from that region of the state, many of which were far bigger than Crested Butte. Nevertheless, the Titans toed the line and continued to post personal records (PR), season bests (SB) and scored points in 24 separate events to pace the girls’ team to a fifth place finish and the boys’ team to a seventh place finish.
“Some really good teams come from that area, and it was really fun to compete against everybody,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall. “We scored a lot of points and to be up there scoring against those teams was great to see.”
There was a bit of a flip in the script for Crested Butte in Cañon City. While the distance runners rattled off a number of scoring results, including two wins, not many posted PR times. On the other hand, the sprinters may not have scored a lot of points yet still posted numerous PR times.
Flint Hoyt and Josie Feier led the way for the Titans in the distance events. Feier ran her way to a first-place finish in the 3200-meters while Hoyt placed third in the 1600-meters and then fourth in the 3200-meters. Sam Bullock and Cody Pleak finished seventh and eighth to score additional points in the 1600-meters while Pleak placed fifth and posted a PR in the 3200-meters.
“Flint Hoyt is learning how to race,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “He’s learning how to put his nose in it in a smart way.”
Giles Billick was the other win for the Titans in the distance events as he ran to a first place finish in the 800-meters.
“He just opened up his kick to win,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It was fun to get a couple of first place finishes.”
Piper O’Neill placed second, Feier third and Maryn Pritchett eighth in the 800-meters to tack on more distance event points for Crested Butte while Kenny Bullock and Max Sullivan placed fifth and seventh respectively in their 800-meter race.
While the boys’ side of the team was missing a couple of runners hampering their relay line ups, they still managed to place top eight in two relay events taking fourth in the 4×400-meter relay and second place in the 4×800-meter relay. The girls team rattled off five team scoring efforts in their relays placing fourth in the sprint medley, fourth and seventh in the 4×200-meter race and fourth and sixth place in the 4×400-meter relay.
Several of the Titans’ opponents in Cañon City were stacked in the sprinting events and the Titan athletes fed off that energy to run 11 PR times throughout the sprint events. Kelsey Clifton and Sophia Bender had the top results among the speedsters as Clifton won her heat and finished seventh overall in the 100-meter hurdles and Bender placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles.
The Titans were so inspired in Cañon City that their field events continued to step up their game despite getting any consistent training all season due to a lack of a place to train. Eva Loflin jumped a foot further than ever before in the long jump to finish seventh for additional team points and Pleak jumped eight inches higher than ever before to place sixth in the high jump.
“I felt like every race was entertaining in a certain way,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “The kids were just rising to the occasion.”
The Titans finish off the regular season of racing this weekend when they head to Grand Junction on Friday and Saturday, May 12-13 for the Dennis Teeters Tiger Invite. With one already punching their ticket to state and some relays on the cusp, some of the focus is on getting more Titans to the big show. But it’s more than that for the coaches and the athletes.
“This is our last chance to run our best and highlight our growth and how well we can do, and we’ll see what happens,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “Walk away feeling good about our season.”