By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
There is a reason the 100 meter dash is one of the most enduring and exciting spectacles in all of sports.
Obviously, while raw speed is important, other factors also determine how well a potential 100 meter sprinter is going to do. The power to quickly reach top speed and the strength to hold it there for as long as you can are just as central to a sprinter’s success as is how fast you turn over your legs.
No race better measures a sprinter’s ability to match an opponent’s effort – everybody runs the race as fast as they can – than the 100 meters, which is why we call the Olympic 100 meter winner the ‘World’s Fastest Person’.
So it didn’t bode very well for West Michigan’s 2014 crop of sprinters when the weather refused to cooperate, blasting the area with a scene more reminiscent of the deepest parts of January than the comfortable beckoning of spring.
The whole team is negatively affected by the delay of spring weather, as day-after-day of hallway and indoor track running starts to wear down the runner’s drive.
Mona Shores boys head track coach Todd Conrad said it’s the sprinters who are hurt the most.
“The distance runners, they get in their miles,” Conrad explained. “They can get outside and get to work. The sprinters, though, there is only so much you can do inside. It is going to take the sprinters longer to catch up.”
Have no fear, though.
Because, when it comes to the fast of the fast, this area still produces some extremely fast fellows.
And, at least this year, none of them are faster than Mona Shores senior sprinter Marquon Sargent.
Sargent entered last Friday as the reigning GMAA city track and field meet 100 meter title holder and anchor of the returning 4×400 meter city champs.
He left it with a whole lot more hardware.
Sargent not only repeated as 100 meter and 4×100 meter relay champion, he added a 200 meter title, and a second-place finish in the long jump, to complete one of the best days any runner can have, contributing 38 of his team’s 104.33 points – a total that, unfortunately for Sailor fans, left them less than two points away from eventual boys team title winner Fruitport.
The Trojans needed to finish third or better in the final event of the night, the exhilarating 4×400 meter relay, to win the boys meet, and that’s what they did.
So the Sailors’ first-place finish in the event was not enough.
But that won’t take anything away from Sargent’s domination of the sprints at the meet, winning the 100 meter title by nearly four-tenths of a second faster (11.23) than second place, teammate Michael Grissom (11.60). Sailor junior sprinter Matt Schuiteman was third at 11.66.
The 200 meters wasn’t as easy for Sargent. Fruitport senior Zack Gilson was unshakable, matching Sargent around the turn and down the final straightaway. It was Sargent’s easy stride which won the day, though it was very close: Sargent finished with a time of 23.15, just ahead of Gilson’s 23.22.
Earlier in the day, Sargent blazed home as the final leg of the Sailors’ 4×100 relay, anchoring the team to a 44.52, eigth-tenths of second ahead of Reeths-Puffer.
Conrad said his senior sprinter is an aberration in that he doesn’t get out of the blocks and up to top speed all that quickly.
“I’ve never had a sprinter who runs like him,” said Conrad. “He’s so long and tall. It takes him a little longer to get going, but once he does, he passes people.”
The road will only get harder Sargent and the Sailors, with the OK Black Conference coming up Thursday (May 8) and then the Class A regional meet at Grand Haven May 16.
The first of these – the conference meet – gained some significance on the last day of April, when Kenowa Hills sophomore Stephen Hagen beat Sargent in the 100 meters, the duo running a 10.64 and 10.78, respectively.
Sargent and Hagen are ranked among the top sprinters in the state.
Perhaps it was a wakeup call for Sargent, though Conrad suspects his runner will peak at the right time of the season, at the regional meet.
“Sometimes it helps to get tested a little bit,” said Conrad of Sargent’s loss. “Sometimes it can be a good thing.”