MOUNT VERNON — Last year the Marion Wildcats ended Cahokia’s 13-year winning streak at the South Seven Conference track meet. Friday, the Wildcats started a streak of their own.
Marion won eight events while rolling to a 182-127 cushion over Mount Vernon. Cahokia was a distant third with 95.
“We won last year, now we got to take it again,” said Marion coach Eli Baker. “That’s exciting for us. It’s one of those things when you win once you’re excited, but when you win twice you know it wasn’t just a fluke or a surprise. We have a team that has kind of turned a corner and is becoming a championship team, and we’re excited about that.
“I always believe success breeds success. When you have guys they see it and they expect that’s the way it’s going to be at the end of the season, they work for that.”
Not only did the Wildcats win eight events, they finished first and second in the shot put (Josh Schmid and Jacob Rice), discus (Josh Schmid and James Gunn) and the 1600 and 3200 meters (Michael Rutkowski and John Bruce).
And, Marion had three double winners – Schmid in the shot put and discus, Rutkowski in the two distance events and Stuart Adkinson swept the hurdles.
“Nobody here did one event,” Baker said. “Everybody doubled up, some people tripled up. Sometimes when you have guys who are one-event athletes, it’s hard to fill all those spots up.”
Levi Bryant claimed first place for Marion in the 800 meters and the Wildcats also won the 3200-meter relay.
“We are an absolute team,” Baker said. “That’s what makes good track teams. The nice thing about our team is we can compete well at high level meets like state because we have those strong individuals, but we can also compete well at the duals and triangulars because we have guys everywhere, we’re good in the field events. We’re good in the sprints and in the distance.
“When we do this, at the end of the day we can look at everybody and say, ‘It’s because of you that we won.’”
The Wildcats got a lift in the field events when Schmid won both throws and Rice placed second in the discus and Gunn second in the shot.
“Our throwers were not projected to finish one-two,” Baker said. “They did well over there. We had some guys PR over in the jump events. The distance guys did what they were supposed to do. We knew we could do really well in the mile, two mile and 4x800 and they did those jobs.”
Furthermore, the Wildcats were able to walk away with a convincing win despite being without Jaden Lacy. Lacy, who was seeded first in both the long jump and high jump was not with the team Friday. The particulars were not made clear, but Baker said Lacy could be back for next week’s sectionals.
“He was unable to be here with us today,” Baker said. “At the moment, that’s about all I can say until we go a little farther. The nice thing is, we’re not a young man team. We didn’t win today because of one guy. We won today because of this entire track team.”
In addition to some dominating performances by Marion athletes, Mount Vernon’s Owen Evans on both the long and triple jumps while Cahokia’s Darreon West took both sprints.