Owl thinclads showed encouraging signs
The Marshall boys' track and field team was in fine fettle when the season was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We had some of the best numbers we've ever had," with 35 student-athletes on the roster, according to head coach Jim Papreck. The first two weeks of practice "were good. We had some of the best weather we've ever had."
Then it all came to a halt.
"We didn't see that coming," Papreck said. "We thought we were in for a great season. We had a good schedule."
The end was especially disappointing to the Owls' five returning senior lettermen, one of them especially impressive in his first varsity season a year ago. Senior Cyrus Laxson "was a ball of fire in the long jump," according to Papreck.
Laxson won twice in that event and placed fifth in the NCMC Championships. He added the triple jump after the season began and was fourth in the conference. He was the only Marshall boy to advance to the sectional meet after finishing fourth in both the long and triple jumps at the Class 4, District 7 Championships.
"We didn't start him in the triple jump until halfway through the season, but he ended up being better at that," noted to assistant coach Amanda Van Winkle, who works with the jumpers. Laxson barely missed qualifying for state in the triple with a fifth-place finish at the sectional.
Senior thrower Mephi Daleen, one of the team's most vocal leaders, also began to enjoy some success in the discus and shot put -- picking up a gold medal in both events, with two medals in the NCMC meet. Junior Evan Sappington and sophomore Owen Kiso had also made gains in the throws and could expect more to come.
After his first two seasons, the Owls looked for big things from junior Braeden Bersano -- who had the best high jumps for the team since state medalist Derik Lavers in the early 2000s -- but was probably going to miss out due to health issues arising during the basketball campaign.
On the track, Marshall was strongest in the middle and long distances, with a ready-made relay team -- and more -- of sophomore Will Van Vactor, juniors Gavin Mills and Herson Renderos, and seniors Edgar Espinoza and Drew Arends.
Mills "has good endurance and aerobic capacity," Papreck said. A state medalist in cross country, Mills "is extremely coachable."
Espinoza has yet to complete a track season due to injuries, but went to state in cross country in the fall, which Papreck said "gave him confidence."
"He put in a winter's worth of training," Papreck said, putting in some 45 miles per week. "He had some really high goals."
Arends was in his fourth year on the team, bringing positive energy, and Renderos was coming along well. After a solid cross country campaign, Van Vactor may have been a big contributor.
"He put in a lot of miles on his won in the winter," Papreck noted. "We would have liked to see what he could have done."
Despite competing in cross country, senior Damon Farina was best suited for the middle distances. Freshmen Victor Granados and Alan Hernandez could also have played significant roles.
Laxson was the Owls' top returning sprinter, but that unit was young and made have made an impact in relays due to depth. Juniors Kevin Linares and Omar Quintana had some good times last year and sophomore Kilmer Cruz worked his way into the district line-up.
Although he would have liked to see his team in action and measured its growth, Papreck takes justifiable pride that in responding to the health crisis, "the most proactive actions were taken by sports leagues."
Contact Chris Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org