Boys cross-country team takes third at Gunnison meet

Nearly every Titan gaining speed with each race

by Than Acuff 

The stage was set for success for the Crested Butte Titans cross-country team. First, there was the weather.

“It was the best weather ever,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall. “For the first time ever, it was cloudy and cool. It’s nice to take heat out as an issue.”

In addition, the Titans already had a race under their belt from the week before, so the coaches were able to both individualize some goals for the race for some runners while setting team-wide goals for the races in Gunnison.

“Each kid had a different focus but a lot of it was capitalizing on what they learned at the last meet,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We also had some team tactics for them to work on.”

The boys’ team took it all in stride with teammates working together through the course, others taking steps from their first race and all of them enjoying the weather to throw down faster times. In fact, seven of the eight Titans that raced in Gunnison last year posted faster times this year, and four Titans finished in the top 25 as the Titan boys’ team ran to a third place finish out of 11 teams.

“It was incredible, they beat some pretty big schools,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “There was only one minute between our first and fifth place runners, it’s the reason we took third place.”

Jake Pendy continues to come back from some early season issues to gain speed, and ran 30 seconds faster than he did at the first race of the season to lead the Titans with a 13th place finish.

“He finished super solid and felt better than he did a week before,” says Sullivan-Marshall. 

Cody Pleak and Flint Hoyt worked together through the first couple miles of the course before Pleak put in a final surge to be the next Titan to cross, coming in 17th place.

“He ran well over two minutes faster than last year in Gunnison,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “He just started picking people off.”

Giles Billick ran a personal record time and slipped into the Titans’ mix to finish 20th while Hoyt ran faster than he did on the same course last year to come in 24th place.

“Giles ran a really smart, strong race and was in a dogfight with three others at the end,” says Sullivan-Marshall. 

The rest of the boys’ team followed suit with improved times and Sullivan-Marshall expects their pace to continue to gain speed moving forward.

“Every runner either improved from last week or the year before and that gives us great momentum the next couple of weeks of training,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

Five Titan girls then stepped to the line in Gunnison and Sophia Bender and Josie Feier used team tactics to help work through the crowd of runners and finish in 37th and 38th place respectively. 

“They ran good team tactics together and used each other in a positive way,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

Ilo Hawley shaved two and a half minutes off her time from last year to place 46th while Aubrey and Lilla Laird finished in 49th and 51st place respectively.

“Lilla was the MVP of the girls’ team,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “She ran her fastest time in Gunnison ever and was just a different runner. She was strong the whole way through.”

The Titans have a break from races with a scrimmage planned this weekend with Gunnison. The coaches will use the time for additional training as they then prepare for back-to-back races when they head to Delta on Friday, September 29 and then come home to take part in the Elk Run 5k high school race on Saturday, September 30.

“We’re psyched to take a step back and put a good training block in,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “Refocusing without the stress of a meet this week and just get some work done.”

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