Titans track team closes season in Grand Junction

“I’m really excited about the future of this team”

By Than Acuff

Suffice it to say, the Crested Butte Titans track team finished the season on a high note peaking in their final meet of the year with numerous personal records (PR), season best times and one Titan qualified for the 2A state championships in two separate events.

This was an exceptional season for the Titans track program from the start as numbers had reached levels not seen in years with a huge influx of freshmen. All told, 16 freshmen joined the high school program back when they started in February and 34 total athletes donned the Titans colors for the season.

Every season proves tough for the track team to train, but this year was exceptionally rough as the healthy winter left snow on potential training areas longer than usual and the Western Colorado University track was unavailable due to a massive reconstruction project as the school builds a new athletic facility.

But the athletes and coaches made the most of what they had holding numerous sessions indoors as well as using the early meets in the schedule more as additional training rather than focusing on times.

But when they closed out the season with the Dennis Teeters Tiger Invitational at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction on Friday and Saturday, May 12-13 with a full squad minus one due to illness, they hit the goals laid out for their final meet of the year.

“Coming from Crested Butte, Stocker Stadium always serves us well, it’s a chance for everyone to pop off their best results,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall. “It was great to have everyone there together and taking what they learned this season and applying it, bring it all together.”

The Titans did that from the start of the two-day meet kicking the meet off on Friday afternoon and into the evening with a slew of sprint preliminaries as well as some distance finals. The list of results included 22 PR times on that first day by the Titans including Josie Feier slashing one minute and 20 seconds off her best time in the 3200 meters to place sixth and Aubrey Laird setting a PR in the same event to finish in 10th.

Piper O’Neill posted her season’s best time in the 800-meters as well while three other Titans set new PR times and Kelsey Clifton kept her streak alive of breaking 20 seconds every time, except one due to wind, in the 100-meter hurdles.

O’Neill also joined Eva Loflin, Ilo Hawley and Sophia Bender to set a season’s best time for the Titans in the girls 4×200-meter relay finishing the day in 10th place. Meanwhile, numerous Titans posted PR times in the slew of sprint preliminaries as well.

“They got to run into the night under the lights, it was really fun,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “Friday was just a great day.”

Crested Butte continued their personal peak ways on Saturday, May 13 with additional relay events and the 1600 meters on tap. 

The girls 4×800-meter relay team of O’Neill, Bender, Katie O’Neill and Feier teamed up to post a season’s best time by 15 seconds to place 10th overall while Max Sullivan, Sam and Kenny Bullock and Jake Pendy joined forces on the boy’s side of the event to place seventh. Mandala Covey-Bleiberg, Bender, Alyssa Lodovico and Hawley kept the relay energy going in their 4×400-meter relay event to set a new season’s best time and finish in eighth place.

Pendy was then given the green light in his 1600-meter race told simply to “just go for it.” Pendy took the advice to his lungs and legs to set a new PR time and finish in ninth place. Additional Titans took Pendy’s lead as three more set PRs in their final 1600-meter race of the year.

The meet brought four Titans’ high school careers to a close as both O’Neills, Clifton and Ruby Pendy wrapped things up.

cI feel like these four have been great role models for our young team,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

Ruby did have a bittersweet close to her prolific high school career. After qualifying for the state championships three years, and in two events this year, Ruby was unable to race in Grand Junction and has to sit out the championships with a hip injury.

”We had to scratch due to her injury,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We were working towards her being able to toe the line and just found out she has a stress fracture. It’s a decision that’s best for her longevity.”

Pendy’s longevity includes attending Middlebury College next year where she plans to continue running at the collegiate level.

With just four seniors graduating from the program, the collection of PR and season’s best times in the final meet of this year among the underclassmen point to additional success next year and even longer.

“I’m really excited about the future of this team,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “All of the underclassmen are willing to work hard and try new things and there’s some really good team culture, so I’m excited to build on that.”

Check Also

Kochevar’s squeaks out win over Pitas in softball

The future of town league is now [  by Than Acuff  ] Couple things first. …