The Marion High School boys’ track team claimed its first Heart of America League track championship Friday at Bethel College, holding on against late-meet challenges from Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson and Berean Academy.
Marion head coach Grant Thierolf said the championship was a total team effort, with critical points coming from those who finished lower in the standings in numerous events.
“The fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth-place finishers really pulled through for us tonight. They were just as important to us winning today as the first-places were,” Thierolf said.
“We got points out of Drew Knolla in the 200 meters. We got a point out of Tyler Neufeld in the 800, we got points out of Isaac Baldwin in the shot put, we got 2 points out of John Nordquist in the javelin. We got 5 points out of our freshman 4x800 relay. All those things add up,” Thierolf said.
Marion came out of the field events with a healthy lead, with the throwers and jumpers piling up 89.5 points of the Warriors’ meet-winning 151.5 points.
Dakin Ledford placed first in the javelin with a throw of 165 feet, one inch, almost 25 feet farther than his closest competitor. Spencer Fugitt took third with a toss of 140-4, and John Nordquist finished fifth with a 132-6 heave.
Fugitt stepped up to claim second in the discus with a throw of 142-8. Ledford placed fifth with a throw of 125-1, and Nick Meyer took sixth with a 121-10 effort.
Meyer was the top Marion shot-putter with a 42-1 heave that placed second. Baldwin picked up more points for the Warriors with a sixth-place 37-6 toss.
Marion hasn’t had an entry in high jump for much of the season, but Thierolf inserted Patrick McCarty and Zach Hammond into the competition for the league meet. McCarty responded by leaping 5-10 to claim second place, and Hammond tied for sixth at 5-4.
“In the league meet, sometimes it’s a matter of filling out your positions and getting everybody in place,” Thierolf said. “That’s why we keep track of the results all year long, and we try to make sure where everybody in the league has people.”
McCarty emerged as the top individual scorer for the Warriors, adding a second-place finish in the 400 meters and fourth-place finish in the long jump. He also ran the opening leg for the third-place 4x400 relay team.
Other placers in the field included Colten Johnson, second in pole vault; Hammond, fourth in pole vault; James Jones, second in long jump and third in triple jump; and Brody Carroll, eighth in triple jump.
Jordan Hett had a strong 3,200 race, lapping part of the field en route to a convincing first-place finish with a time of 10 minutes, 19 seconds. He took second in the 1,600 meters, finishing ahead of Timothy Knolla who placed seventh.
Johnson placed third in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, and Carroll placed fifth in the 300.
Sixth-place finishes went to Drew Knolla in the 200 and Neufeld in the 800.
The 4x400 relay team picked up the final points of the meet with a third-place finish, clocking a time of 3:34.
“We had a lot of kids step up and score points tonight that maybe hadn’t been, our times were better, kids did events they weren’t used to doing — it was fun,” Thierolf said. “We’re thrilled for our seniors, Colten and Dakin and Jon and Drew to win a league championship in their last go-round.”
Marion captured third place in the girls’ competition, finishing behind Berean Academy and Bennington.
“Our girls’ team did a great job of competing all night behind two very strong state-ranked programs, and our finish is a testament to a lot of hard work by a small but dedicated group of young ladies,” Thierolf said.
Corey Shields nabbed a league championship in the discus with a throw of 100-11. A second-place finish in shot put and fourth in javelin made her the Lady Warriors’ top individual scorer. Alex Young earned points in the shot put with a seventh-place showing.
Alicia Maloney took third in the pole vault at 9-0, followed in fifth place by Kelli Hess.
In the jumps, Whitney Gordon cleared 5-0 in the high jump to claim third place. Kadecha Gueary soared to fourth in the long jump with a leap of 15-5, and placed sixth in the triple jump. Hess took seventh in the long jump.
Kaelyn Thierolf secured the team’s second individual championship in the 1600 with a time of 5:41. She placed second in the 3200.
Second-place finishes were earned by Katey Ehrlich in the 300 hurdles and Gordon in the 100 hurdles. Gueary placed seventh in the 100.
The Lady Warriors finished fifth in the 4x400 relay and sixth in the 4x100 relay.
“We scored points where we could score points. They did everything we asked of them,” Thierolf said.
Marion will host and compete in regional competition Friday at Warriors Stadium.