SOLON — Que the sinister laugh. For the Marion boys’ track team, everything is proceeding exactly as they have foreseen it.
Marion won the Class 3A title last season and returned 44 of 69 team points.
Thursday night at a Class 3A state qualifying meet at Spartan Stadium, the Indians finished runner-up to Dubuque Wahlert. The Golden Eagles won the team title with 151 points to 138 for Marion.
“Its the same deal as last year,” senior Chris Mohwinkle said. “Wahlert got first at the district meet, but we won state. We know we have events that can place higher than Wahlert at state. So I’m not too worried about it.”
Last year Marion didn’t win a team title until it won the big enchilada in Des Moines.
“If we could get the state qualifier championship, that’d be great,” Marion Coach Chad Zrudsky said. “But tonight was about qualifying those events that are going to score well at state.
“It was more about putting ourselves in position for next week.”
The team title came down to the 400-meter relay. Wahlert came into the meet with a season-best of 44.15 to 44.16 for Marion.
Marion finished in 43.65 — a new school record — but Wahlert won in 43.60.
“Our goal was to get the school record, and we got it,” Mohwinkle said. “We wanted to win, of course, but our goal was to get the school record.”
Mohwinkle is a 400 runner by trade, and finished second in the open 400. Grant Meth, who ran the second leg of the 4x100, was a little mismatched, too.
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“We popped (Meth) in the 4x100 tonight, and we ran a school record,” Zrudsky said. “Our sprint relays looked good.”
The Indians’ top performers acted like it. Marion double-dipped in the 3,200 and 1,600, finishing first and second. Senior Jeremy Fopma was first and followed in each by junior Harrison Vanderlinden.
Senior Blair Brooks, the defending state champion in both jumping events, proved more than capable of qualifying to defend those titles. Brooks leapt 23 feet in the long jump and 6 feet, 6 inches in the high jump, winning both.
“We’ve focused on this season, rather than last season,” Zrudsky said. “We don’t talk a lot about goals, just about getting better every day.
“We knew coming into this season that the pressure is going to be on the kids, because they are going to expect it.
“I’m excited about what we have qualified, now just hope for the best.”
In Class 3A, the top two in every event at each state qualifying meet qualifies for state. There will also be eight more at-large bids given out to the best of the rest, announced Friday
Solon and Mount Vernon are Highway 1 neighbors, just a 10-minute drive apart. They are in the same conference, the Wamac, and find themselves at the same track meets quite often.
Thursday night was the 10th time this season (outdoor) the Spartan and Mustang girls battled in the shuttle hurdle. The two relays ranked in the top five in Class 3A (MV second and Solon fourth) coming in.
Mount Vernon edged their rivals …
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“Having us be so close, it’s always one of our goals to always beat them,” Mustang shuttle hurdle anchor Annie Leopold said.
… But the Mustangs took second place.
The crown went to Xavier, which beat Mount Vernon by 7/10 of a second, 1:06.19 to 1:06.89.
“I definitely was not expecting that,” Leopold said. “They were coming in (with a time of) 1:09, and finished at 1:06.”
The Saints had a new lineup for the first time this season. Anna Parr was returning from injury, and Aubrey Jones is a converted sprinter.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Xavier anchor Theresa Lampe said. “It was the first time all four of us have run together all year. We kind of surprised ourselves.”
Lampe said Jones was recruited because of her fast 100, and because she had previously ran the 300 or 400 hurdles. “She wanted to give this a go,” Lampe said.
By the time Lampe started her anchor leg, she had a lead of several steps on the Mustangs and Spartans.
“I was pretty happy,” Lampe said.
Mount Vernon qualified for state as the runner-up, and Leopold said the Mustangs are excited for another go at the new-look Saints.
“I’m not too worried about it because we played it really safe on the exchanges,” Leopold said. “I think we’ll beat them.”
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