Titans track spends Saturday in Western Slope battle

“Just race and the times will come”

By Than Acuff 

Up against 20 teams from across the Western Slope, Roaring Fork Valley and I-70 corridor, the Crested Butte Titans track and field team raised their level last weekend to post some quality results led by a strong contingent of distance runners. 

“The motto has been, just race, and the times will come,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall. “Well, the times came in spades with some final straight away excitement.”

Three Titans cracked the top 10 in the boys’ 800-meter run led by Jake Pendy finishing sixth, Giles Billick right behind him in seventh place and Max Sullivan crossing in 10th place.

The boys then upped the ante in the 1,600-meter race led once again by Pendy. Five Titans lined up and Pendy raced to a second-place finish and Billick finished fourth with Sam Bullock cracking the top 10 coming in 10th place with Flint Hoyt and Sullivan placing 11th and 13th respectively. All five runners posted either personal record or season best times with their efforts.

Hoyt then lined up for the 3,200-meter run with a goal of setting a new personal record time. Hoyt reached that goal shaving eight seconds from his previous best time and finished fourth.

“His pace was near perfect and he passed multiple runners as the race went on,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

Relays can be a mixed bag for the Titans as their training facility limitations prevent them from getting much “true to race” type practice. Nevertheless, the coaches continue to tweak the relays and create chances for athletes to not only test the waters, but also find the right combination.

Whether it was new runners in relays or a different order to current relay teams, the Titans rolled with the changes as every relay team scored team points.

Elise Crisi, Ilo Hawley, Sage Johnson and Eva Loflin cut three seconds off their time last week to place ninth in the 4×200-meter. Maryn Pritchett and Josie Feier joined Hawley and Crisi in the sprint medley to place 10th and score team points while both the boys and girls 4×400-meter relay teams scored additional points for the team.

Loflin, Crisi, Pritchett and Feier ran their way to a seventh-place finish in the girls race while Colby Smith, Sullivan, Billick and Pendy dug deep in their race with Pendy leaning at the finish line for a fourth-place finish.

“The 1,600-meter relay (4×400) is the best way to end the meet,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It is drama filled and exciting and after a long day, the runners need to dig deep to get the baton around the track.”

Not only did the Titans generate team points in the distance and relay events, Loflin added more to their team total with her effort in the long jump as she was in the top nine after the prelims to advance to the finals and jumped her season best by over a foot to place seventh.

The Titan sprinters were in the mix of the massive field of runners and used the challenge to push hard with several setting new personal records.

“The sprinters are doing an amazing job so far in the season, which is cool because the meets we have had so far have been at higher elevation where athletes typically don’t run PRs,” says coach Sophie Klein. “We picked up right where we left off for many athletes. I have been really impressed with the drive and enthusiasm of the returners. Now that they know what to expect from the sport, they are willing to push themselves a little harder just to see what’s possible.” 

They will take what they’ve done so far and use this week to continue their foundation work, especially among the sprinters, as they prepare for their next meet on Saturday, March 30 in Cedaredge.

“Right now, we are still in the base building phase of the season, so we are doing a lot of longer hard workouts and form work,” says Klein. “The goal is to get all sprinters ready to run the 400m dash, the longest sprint race. We will move into speed work soon. I think the athletes are excited for the speed phase of the season. I hope to see the sprinters take some chances in their races. They have all gotten a few ‘practice’ races in during the last two meets and now I would like to see them do something that is completely new just to see what happens.”

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