Prince of Peace junior Marcus Blount is no stranger to handling himself. Two years of successful cross country running has proven that.
Now, he’s taken on a team as well.
Blount has been ranked among the top runners in Class 1A all season.
He spent all last season as the only male runner for the Irish, making it to the Class 1A state meet and finishing 19th in the field with a 17:17 time. The Irish now host an entire team, accumulating team scores from meet to meet for the first time in a few years.
“It’s definitely an honor to lead them,” Blount said. “It feels really different from going to just me last year, and now it feels like we’re just getting new boys tagging along as we go. It’s awesome.”
A little soft-spoken, Blount now finds himself an upperclassman and a team leader. It’s a job he takes seriously and has excelled in despite not having a team before.
“He’s a great leader,” Prince of Peace coach Owen Howard said. “He doesn’t always voice it, but he leads by example. With a lot of freshman and sophomores running, and even the middle school boys, he sets a great example for them out there at practice.”
Even though the beginner runners may not quite keep pace with state-ranked Blount, it’s changed the practice dynamic for him and the way he’s been able to train.
“We send out rabbits, they start before me and I have to go catch them,” Blount said. “That really helps both me and them.
“I like that we get to run as a team this year. At the practices, we can talk, joke around in the freetime but then we still get to run and work hard when the running starts.”
Blount ran a successful freshman campaign but made huge strides as a sophomore runner. Part of that was a growth spurt, and part was a new interest in cross country success.
He is ranked No. 9 in the Class 1A cross country state rankings as an individual.
“I kind of hoped [I’d be successful],” Blount said. “I always had some confidence in myself, felt like a decent runner and I’ve always trained really well. We have really great coaches that push me every practice.”
With more success comes loftier goals – Blount is not only hoping to make it to Fort Dodge for the state meet this year, but come home with some hardware this time around.
“I think this year, getting out to state and finishing right outside that podium spot, it really motivated him to get out and do a lot more running in the offseason,” Coach Howard said. “It’s got him focused this year on getting top 15.”
Blount is a successful athlete at Prince of Peace in a number of sports, including a basketball and soccer starter. Running has become a passion of his, and getting to that next level is in the forefront of his thoughts.
It made him start his training earlier this year, putting on miles in the summer to get himself prepped for the fall cross country start.
“I started early, got to running early during the summer,” Blount said. “I’m just going to try to carry it on through the season.”
Blount finished sixth just Tuesday night at the Midland meet, but those in front of him were all from Class 2A. In fact, the next 1A finisher was almost a full minute behind Blount.
He’s seeing regular success in meet after meet, setting him up for an exciting postseason.
“I’ll think more about [my goals] toward the end of the season I’m sure,” Blount sai. “For now, I’m just looking to place low at state.”