Marcus Blount

Prince of Peace’s Marcus Blount (left) runs with Camanche’s Andrew Butt (front, right) during the Jim Hetrick Invite on Oct. 8 in DeWitt

Prince of Peace sophomore Marcus Blount has a new flow – on his head as well as on the cross country course.

The second-year runner for the Irish is a one-man team, and is sporting some longer locks through the regular cross country season so far. He calls it his COVID hair – he just hasn’t cut it.

The returning state-qualifier has added some other new things to his race day, including a few inches in height and some major time drops.

Blount qualified for state last season and talked about his regular season goals to keep up with Aidan Gruver from Easton Valley. Gruver also earned a state berth.

“It definitely did [spark motivation] going out to state,” Blount said. He finished in the top 50 last year with a 17:32 time. “It’s all thinking that I can do better this year.

“I was thinking about the next year – how I can run it, what I can do differently and what I can do better.”

This season, he’s up with Camanche’s Andrew Butt. Butt was a part of the Indians’ state team last season and is making his own case for a state run this year.

“It’s just setting goals to beat people that I know that I can run close to,” Blount said. He beat Gruver in 2019’s last regular season meet after running behind him all year.

Blount’s growth spurt over the summer has been instrumental in his improvements. In addition to starting early with training, he sprouted a few inches and is running with a longer stride.

“He’s got a lot longer stride now and that’s helping him a lot cutting ground,” Prince of Peace head coach Owen Howard said. “He’s running well.”

At last year’s Jim Hetrick Invitational in DeWitt, Blount came in 20th with a time of 17:32. At the same race just last Thursday, Blount finished fifth nearly 30 seconds faster. The time he ran would have placed him 16th last year in the Class 1A race.

Blount finished second overall in 17:24 this week at the Tri-Rivers Conference meet at Starmont High School.

“I think getting tougher mentally and pushing myself has really helped,” Blount said.

The new look suits the Irish sophomore, although he says he still may cut it in the coming weeks. He’s not superstitious as far as changing the look, and figures some extra aerodynamics could never hurt.

The Irish runner is also looking ahead. There’s a group of middle school athletes on their way up that’s setting the stage for a possible Irish boys team.

“We have three seventh grade, three eighth grade,” Coach Howard said. “I know there’s a couple of eighth grade boys thinking about coming out too. The future of him possibly having a team to lead is very exciting.”

As a junior, he would be the only upperclassman and the only one with state experience on the team, making him an automatic leader. He already works on it. The Irish teams all practice together.

“I think they’re looking up and they’re pushing themselves,” Blount said. “I’m looking forward to maybe having a team.”

The Irish are vying for their own trips to Fort Dodge next Tuesday, the girls looking for a second straight trip and Blount trying to make his own personal appearance. They’ll run at the Class 1A qualifying meet at Cascade next week (Oct. 22)