The Marion High School boys’ track team features 10 returning lettermen, including three state meet qualifiers. While head coach Grant Thierolf still has some work to do rounding out his slate of competitors for the upcoming season, he was upbeat in his overall assessment of the team.
“We’re awfully excited. We think we can be pretty solid as a team,” Thierolf said.
Distance specialist Jordan Hett headlines the trio of Warriors state qualifiers. Hett has been to the Class 3A cross-country championship three times, and will be seeking to duplicate that with his third trip to the state track meet. Hett finished fourth in the 3200 and 10th in the 1600 at state last year.
“He had a great cross country season,” Thierolf said. “He’s more focused than he’s ever been in track. He’s obviously a great talent.”
Patrick McCarty was Marion’s second-best runner in cross-country, but when it comes to the oval track, McCarty has found his niche in the middle-distance 400-meter event, which took him to the state meet last year. McCarty was the first Marion runner to qualify for state in sprints in 20 years. Thierolf has high expectations for McCarty in two events this season.
“He’s going to be one of the state’s top sprinters in the middle sprints, both the 200 and 400,” Thierolf said.
Colten Johnson will be looking to return to the state meet in pole vault, and Thierolf will take full advantage of Johnson’s athleticism and versatility.
“He can do a lot of different things for us,” Thierolf said. “I can’t wait to see what he does in the pole vault, the javelin, the hurdles – he can do a lot.”
Marion has excelled in pole vault in recent years, and Thierolf expects that to be the case this year.
“We’re going to be awfully strong there with Zach Hammond and Colten,” Thierolf said.
Brody Carroll narrowly missed qualifying for state in the 300-meter hurdles last year, but Thierolf is banking on Carroll to continue the pattern of continuous improvement he displayed during the season.
“His times came down consistently last year. He’s going to give us a good, competitive person in the 300 hurdles,” Thierolf said.
Jon Tacha, Spencer Fugitt, and Isaac Baldwin will carry the load in the throwing events, and Theirolf anticipates Kyle Palic could add to the mix as he adjusts to heavier weights than what he was used at the junior high level.
Long jump and triple jump duties will be handled by James Jones, and Thierolf expects to see improvement over the solid performance Jones logged as a freshman last year.
“He was a pretty consistent point-scorer for us last year as a freshman, and he’s bigger, faster, stronger, and better this year,” Thierolf said. “He’ll also do some sprints.”
Carroll, McCarty, Jones, and Johnson will form the core for the 4x400 relay, but Thierolf sees possibilities for other runners to contribute.
The picture is less clear when it comes to the 4x800 relay.
“It depends on what we do with Patrick and Jordan. If we can find two other runners to go with them we’d be really good,” Thierolf said. “But we’re not going to use them in that event unless we find runners to go with them. We may find them.”
Blazing speed in the short and middle distance sprints is in short supply, and Thierolf said time will be the most significant influence in filling those needs.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who can run pretty decently, we’ve just got to let them mature and get faster,” Thierolf said.