MARION — Neither rain, not sleet or gloom of late afternoon can stop the Marion Relays — at least the 2017 version.
“For some reason this date is cursed,” said Marion coach Eli Baker. “I don’t know what it is. We’re always battling some kind of storm. Last year we had one brewing and decided to shut it down and then it didn’t happen. I told them this year I was going to make them show up and we were going to run the meet unless we had lightning. Luckily, we stuck it out.”
The rain also failed to stop Mascoutah. The Indians outdistanced Marion 170-137 to win the meet. Salem placed third, followed by Harrisburg and Carbondale.
Marion and Mascoutah have battled it out in several meets this year, leading to a good-natured rivalry between the two schools.
“They’re a AA school at the state level,” Baker said. “We’re battling for positions. They’re one of our sectional teams. We’ve upped our schedule and they go to a lot of the same meets because they want to face the same competition. It’s making both teams better.”
Mascoutah picked up first place points in the hurdles shuttle, the 400 meter relay, 800 meter relay, frosh-soph 400 meter relay, 3,200 meter relay and the sprint medley relay.
“Mascoutah is a little stronger in some of the sprint races than we are, but I think we battled well,” Baker said. “We had some good distance times today. It’s a meet where it’s challenging to run PRs because you’re spread out on the relays so you don’t all run together.
“We had some really good times out of some of our young guys, some of our older guys. Trevell Whitehorn had a really good triple jump today. He had a 45-5 which is a huge PR for him. We had some good hurdle guys.”
In addition to Whitehorn having the best triple jump of the day, Marion’s Jaden Lacy had the top long jump at 21-8.
The relay format includes events that aren’t run in convention meets, such as the hurdle shuttle and four-mile relay. In the field events, the top heights or distances from three individuals are computed for team scores.
“Honestly, this is kind of a hectic time of year,” Baker said. “Sometimes you get stuck in the routine of things and it’s nice to change it up. We get a lot of guys in. All the field events, we can get in four guys.”
Carbondale’s Sam Sikon, the two-time defending Class AA shot put and discus champion, was named the Gene Watson Outstanding Athlete winner. Sikon, a senior, turned in the best shot put (61-5) and discus (163-9) distances of the day.
Sikon admitted feeling a little pressure to three-peat.
“I’m feeling a little pressure, mainly in the disc, simply because shot is not extremely close,” he said. “If I was in 3A, I’d feel a lot of pressure. But, in second in 2A is like 57 feet.”
Although Sikon isn’t having an outstanding season, by his standards, he has the longest shot put throw in the state at more than 65 feet.
“I hurt my hand, so I couldn’t throw for a month or two in the offseason,” he said. “So, my weight room didn’t get that much better. And, I don’t really have the throws I need, like, base wise. So, this season has definitely been a struggle.”