Along with the THSB State Preview Invite this weekend, the Marion Invitational will be one of the largest, most competitive races before the State tournament this year. This Saturday's race will take place on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN. The meet features eight teams in this week's IATCCC Top 25 Poll. They include on the girls' side 1 FW Carroll, 2 Carmel, 12 Homestead, 18 Warsaw, 21 Penn and 23 Bishop Dwenger. On the boys' side, we will see 2 FW Carroll, 8 North Central, 21 Homestead, 22 Pendleton Heights and 23 Warsaw. It's going to be a much colder weekend than we've had in a while, with the high only being 69 for Saturday and about 55 at the start of the first race. We should expect to see some really fast times with weather like that.
This year's field looks nothing like last years, with 3 of the top 5 teams not returning for many reasons. Most are just taking the weekend off from racing. This still leaves us with the winners from last year competing though, The Chargers of FW Carroll. At last weekend's Huntington North Invite, they were able to put 4 in the top 10 to secure a 62 point win over FW Concordia. Carroll should not have a problem running away with the title for a 2nd year.
As for the individual title keep an eye on Carroll's Cole Powers, Connor Goetz, FW Snider's Jesse Hamlin, Lapel's Luke Combs and Chesterton's Jakob Kintzele. These guys will all be in the front pack throughout the entirety of the race and any one of them could take the win. If I had to give my personal prediction I would say Powers of Carroll will take the win but Kintzele is the top returner from last year and he set his all-time PR on this course last year.
For the girl's elite race, it is going to be a highly contested battle between the #1 and #2 ranked teams, Carroll and Carmel. Last year Carmel raced at the THSB State Preview but this year, under new Coach Andy Dalton, they are bringing their talent to the Marion Invite. With the cooler temps we will see a mock state meet in terms of the team race and also the individuals. Both Carroll and Carmel look strong though so it will be a fight for who can place more of their runners up towards the front. Personally, I see Carroll going home with the win for the 6th year in a row. Carmel will put up a strong fight for that number 2 spot but so far, this year Carroll is looking like a much stronger team.
For the individual race, watch for Phoebe Bates, Abby Green, Tyler Schwartz, Zoe Duffus and Maddie Dalton to all be stride for stride with each other most of the way. Bates, Green and Schwartz will be the favorites to take the title and will all three battle it out all the way to the end. The win could easily be decided just on who can pull out a bigger kick in the final stretch.
Stay tune to MileSplit Indiana throughout the weekend for coverage of this meet and others. Race videos, interviews and more coming to you soon!