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Burnett wins the 100 in Marion Relays

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GIANTS: Marion's Braxstin Delgado competes in the 4 x 400 relay for the Giants during the Marion Relays on Saturday at the Terry Lakes Track and Field complex.
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BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

The sprint that is high school track and field season in Indiana picked up a bit more pace on Saturday with the 69th running of the Marion Relays at the Terry Lakes Track and Field Complex.

And the fastest person in the place proved to be Giants' sophomore Zaimar Burnett. Burnett, the only freshman in Indiana to qualify for the state outdoor 100 meter championship in 2018, showed he's ready to contend for another trip to Bloomington at the end of May by running an 11.03 in the 100 to earn the Giants' lone event win. Burnett also anchored Marion's runner-up 4x100 relay team, another state qualifier last year. Crown Point (44.13 second) edged the Giants by .03 seconds to win the race.

"Some of our relays, we're really starting just now to come together and gel," said Marion boys coach Nate Larson. "We lost a big leader in Justin (Johnson) so getting that groove back has been a little bit of a struggle, but we're getting there."

"When we're at practice they're performing well, working and pushing each other, the whole team chemistry is starting to come together," Larson added.

 

Johnson, who ran the third leg of Marion's 4x100 relay state qualifier, was on hand as a volunteer worker before putting on his pads and helmet for Indiana Wesleyan's spring football game Saturday afternoon. But Larson believes Burnett could eventually fill the leadership role vacated by Johnson's graduation.

Burnett was 0.19 seconds faster than Kokomo senior Steven Edwards (11.22) in winning the 100, then just ran out of while chasing down Crown Point's anchor runner in the 4x100. Burnett also scored a third-place finish in the long jump, his 20-foot, 9.5-inch leap less than three inches from the 21-foot jump that won the event. 

 

"Zaimar in the 100, 11.03 at this time of year, that's a pretty good deal," Larson said. "He was feeling good. He had a lot of energy today and that was good to see because he can be that dynamic team leader that the kids feed of what he does."

Crown Point (106) edged Elkhart Central (102) for the boys' team title. Yorktown (73), South Bend Adams (70) and Muncie Central (62) rounded out the top-five. The Giants (59) were sixth and finished ahead of NCC-rivals Kokomo (55) and Richmond (14) along with Indianapolis Washington (2).

Qu'Ran Howard was runner-up in high jump (5-10), Eli Lootens finished third in 110 hurdles, Kheigan Fields was fourth in long jump and Kainen Malone-Johnson finished eighth in pole vault to account for all of Marion's individual points. Tyler Morgan was ninth in both the 1,600 and 3,200 and finished one-place out of scoring.

Two races in both the girls and boys events, a 4,000 distance medley relay and a 800 meter sprint medley relay, add uniqueness to the Marion Relay format and the Giants were fifth in the DMR, 4x800 and 4x400 relays. Marion was sixth in the SMR boys race.

"I thought we did well. I thought we had some issues that we'll iron out," Larson said. "It's a little bit of trusting themselves, trusting their training, so they know they'll be able to do what they need to do. 

"It makes it fun to compete in and to have," he continued about the relay format. "As a coach that's looking forward to the conference and the sectional, regional and state meet it's a little big different. We spent more time (practicing) on some different handoffs. It's fun to compete in and fun to put the guys in different spots. Also gives us the opportunity to run a few more guys." 

The Marion girls team is in the process putting  a foundation in place and coach Kevin Alsup is encouraged by what he's seen this spring so far, including in the relays.

"Our overall work ethic is really good right now. We have some young kids that are busting their tails and really getting after it and have great attitudes," Alsup said. "We're filling spots here and there. We ran almost a full meet today with somebody in everything, which last year we weren't even close to that. To have the bodies to be putting in places is good and we're very thankful for that."

Alsup said the Marion girls have 25 girls out this season, but just five are seniors. 

Leilanu Jackson, one of those seniors, was Marion's top performer in the meet finishing fourth in shot put and fifth in discus to score nine of the Giants' 23 points.

Senior Ayana Harvey was sixth in discus while freshman Gabriella Garcia finished sixth in the 100 meters.

"Gabby Garcia, for her to get in finals and place (in the 100) was big. She did other relays and really stepped up today," Alsup said. "She did the 4x4 at the end of the meet which is not really her thing, but because that's the type of kid she is she stepped up and did it.

"Leilanu Jackson is doing well in throws, placing and getting better each time," he added. "(Senior) Katie Erickson in distance, she just goes and competes and hates to lose. That's  contagious for our youngers kids."

The Giants' girls also scored with seventh place finishes in the 4x800, 4x100 and 4x400 relays along with finishing eighth in the DMR and SMR. 

Homestead (173) dominated to win the team title over Fort Wayne Snider (101), Huntington North (76), South Bend Adams (50.5) and Elkhart Central (45). Kokomo (36.5), Yorktown (27), Marion (23) and Richmond (11) rounded out the team scoring.

"We're trying to figure out what the place is, putting kids in a place to succeed," Alsup said. "We've got some good young kids, sophomores and freshman, and we've got some good young kids coming. If we can just kind of keep developing, good things are on the way for sure.

"We're coming. I'm hopeful for what the future holds and we're getting there," Alsup added. "It's just reminding the kids about the proess of each day we've got to get better and better and better and keep working at it. Attitudes have been great, effort has been great. Each day I go home and I'm energized. ... I just try to keep them encouraged because they're not seeing hey we're winning. They've got to see we're getting better each time out. It's about us.

"The great thing about track is 100 meters here is 100 meters somewhere else so if I run a 13.9 here and go somewhere else and run a 13.8, I'm doing better. I'm really pleased with where we're at on the girls side."