Jake Pendy takes Southern Peaks league title
By Than Acuff
While most Crested Butte Titans athletes took a break during the school’s October Break last week, the Titans cross-country team had a handful of runners still competing at races in Aspen and Monte Vista with Jake Pendy finishing the regular season as the Southern Peaks league champion and Cody Pleak taking third in the league.
The Titans opened the break with six athletes lining up for the Chris Severy Invitational in Aspen on Saturday, October 7 and despite the depleted numbers, the coaching staff still sees benefit in attending the race.
“We always make it to Aspen because there’s such a big break from races until regionals,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall. “It’s a great place to practice strategy.”
It’s also a tough place to race with the Aspen course notorious in the high school cross-country racing world.
“It’s one of the toughest courses in Colorado,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It’s never about time, it’s all about racing.”
Two Titans girls lined up in Aspen with Josie Feier finishing close to how she raced on the same course last year. Meanwhile, Elise Crisi got her first look at the Aspen experience and while it proved to be a rough day for the young runner, she pushed through to the finish line.
“Elise had a brutal intro to the Aspen course but I’m so proud she finished,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
The boys’ team was hit with a setback the week prior losing one of their top runners, Giles Billick, to an ankle injury leaving them one runner shy of posting a team result. Nevertheless, they had stellar individual showings as Pendy continued his Aspen streak of always placing in the top 10, crossing in fifth place this time while Pleak was right behind him in sixth place.
“Having two runners in the top 10 is great,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
James Brady had a strong showing for his first time on the course and Connor Brown ran a minute faster than he did last year.
Sullivan-Marshall then took three remaining runners on a couple of workouts during the break as Pendy, Pleak and Brown prepared for the Southern Peaks league meet in Monte Vista on Friday, October 13.
Sullivan-Marshall laid out a plan for Pendy and Pleak as rankings and previous times had one runner looking to be above the rest.
“I told Jake [Pendy] and Cody [Pleak] to just hang in the second pack,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
Pendy took her strategy one step further though, jumping out in front of the second pack and then reeling in the leader one mile into the race to take over in front and run to his first varsity win and the league title.
“He raced really smart and people were coming after him,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
Pleak remained in the second pack to battle his way to an eighth place finish and take third place in the league while Brown ran his second fastest time of the season.
“I’m really glad we went,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It sets us up for regionals.”
The full team returned to workouts on Monday as they prepare for the regional meet in Dolores on Saturday, October 21, a new venue for almost everyone in their region.
The boys’ team will still be without Billick, but Sullivan-Marshall believes they can still excel and punch their ticket to the state championships as a team.
“The top five teams go and I feel good about the boys,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “If they do what they’ve been doing all season, they should be top five.”
The girls’ team has an outside chance to make it as well. It will be tough but not impossible.
“I’m just telling them to run a race they can be really proud of,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We’ll see what happens. I feel like the last couple of meets we’ve figured out the little things that the girls need to race well.”