ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Marion’s experience at Friday’s regional track meet in Cheney was educational, according to coach Grant Theirolf.
“We had a great learning day at regionals,” he said. “In some cases we found out what we have to do for next year to be ready to run in the regionals and qualify for the state meet, and in some other cases, we found out we are not far from being a state-quality contender.”
By the time the last event was run, the Warrior track team was down to three athletes who will carry Marion’s banner to Wichita this weekend.
The lone girl to continue is Jessica DeForest, who finished a strong third in the 3,200-meter run; she finished the race in 12:52.10.
“Jessica DeForest has been a steady influence on the young distance runners we have and she ran a very good race in the 3,200,” Thierolf said. “She has qualified before as part of a relay team, but this is her first individual qualification.”
Two members of the boys’ team will represent Marion at state.
Gavin Moore earned a spot in the boys’ 3,200 by placing third at Cheney in a time of 10:35.5.
“Gavin…has overcome some leg problems, but continues to battle through discomfort and ran a strong race,” Thierolf said. “This is his first time in the state track meet and we look forward to seeing what he can do in great competition.”
Casey Nelson, meanwhile, challenged an especially strong field in the pole vault, qualifying with a fourth-place finish by clearing 13 feet 6 inches. This will be the second time he has made it to state in this event.
“He really showed his character by having some misses early in the competition, but coming back and making the heights on his first attempt when he had to,” Thierolf said. “We think the pole vault will be the marquee event at the state meet, with at least 12 vaulters over 13 feet. It should be a great event to watch.”
The Warriors had several near misses in other events. Tyler Smith and Steven Boone finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the discus with tosses of 143-0 and 139-1. Smith missed a spot at state by just over three feet.
Jason Hett placed sixth in the 1,600 meters (5:01.2) and Nelson was sixth in the 400 (55.2). The boys’ 4×800 team of Hett, Luke Bowers, Joe Goering and Moore also placed sixth.