For nearly two decades now, the Marcus High School cross country program has been synonymous with excellence.
This year, the Marauders distance runners are ranked third and fourth in the state on the girls and boys side respectively, and recently won the prestigious invitational that bears the school’s name, the Marcus II.
The interesting thing about this year’s squad is that the teams have not yet reached their full potential, are not yet at full strength and are still among the top programs in the state.
Coach Steve Telaneus said that things are shaping up very well so far this season and he anticipates his team once again to rival for a spot in Austin.
“I am pleased with how the work has gone, and I am pleased with some of the results,” Telaneus said. “We’ve still had a little bit of a slow start for the boys, just because we’ve had two of our best athletes that are coming back from some lingering track injuries, Luke and Logan Hendrix.
“I have tried to be real patient to make sure they get their base mileage finished before they really start racing.”
Luke Hendrix was Marcus’ fifth runner at the Marcus II Invitational, a meet the team won by two points.
“It was a boost for the team to get him out there, and he made a big difference,” Telaneus said. “He beat one of the kids from the team we were competing directly with. He edged him at the line, which was a two point change right there.”
On the girls side, the team is starting to hit its stride as well and Telaneus said he has been impressed with what he has seen so far.
“They are just a delight to work with,” Telaneus said. “They are pretty young, but they are experienced in distance running. Sydney Brown just returned this week also, and is a fantastic leader. She is really talented, and it is good to get her out there.
“Emma Blair is a really good sprinter. She’s a quarter-miler or half-miler, but she’s the talent in the distance running too, and is really starting to come around.”
“A long time ago, there was not this type of quality and depth of talent in cross country in the North Texas area,” Telaneus said. “One of the things that I’ve always wanted to accomplish was to make this area better, because if the area is hot with good teams, my team is going to be better.
“Early on, we’d go rampaging through a season, win every meet, go to region, win or qualify for state, get into state, and then get destroyed because the good teams were from South Texas. That has changed, and while it is a little more nerve-wracking to get through the season, I prefer it this way.”
In the most recent cross country state rankings among 5A schools according to txrunning.com, Marcus, Southlake Carroll and Keller were both ranked among the top 10 in the state on the boys side, while Marcus, Flower Mound, Carroll and Hebron were among the top 10 on the girls side.
Telaneus said the Marcus cross country program has a couple of objectives for the season with the ultimate goal of bringing home a state championship on both sides.
“We want to improve upon what we did last year, and one of those goals is to win,” Telaneus said. “We feel like we are one of the top five teams in the state for sure, and we have some experience. It comes down to who has the best day that day, and we are training with the belief that we can do that.
“We’re going to perform our best, and let the chips fall where they may. We’re not going to be worried about ribbons or anybody else. We’re going to do what we do to the best of our ability.”
Girls runner Sydney Brown attributes Marcus’ success to a couple of factors that she believes are crucial to a good season.
“Coach T is a really good coach, and he’s a big part of it,” Brown said. “Everyone on the team is really into it and wants to do good, and we’re all really close. I honestly think we can win state.
“We’ve got a shot at it, because everyone wants to and is fighting for that.”
Boys runner Ben Reed agrees and said that he believes that for Marcus to have a shot at winning region and state, the teams will have to a do a better job in two areas.
“I think right now, our number one problem is us not running with each other,” Reed said. “Our three through seven runners are all pretty much packed right now.
“We need to get the concept down of going out like crazy and stick together and make sure we last the final two miles of the race. I think our top priority to win region or state is to run together, and trust each other that we can do it.”