Atlee junior Marques Atkinson leads the Central Region team champions into this weekend's Group AAA Indoor State Championships as one of most versatile athletes in the meet. Atkinson this season has competed in the hurdles, high jump, long jump, sprints, mid-distance, and relays. He will likely be the book end on both of Atlee's state qualified relays in the 4x800 and 4x400 along with competing in the high jump and long jump. The Central Region 500 champion will be featured in the fast section of his specialty event alongside twin brother Michael as they will attempt to score big points in the 500 against favorite and US leader Taylor Sykes for an Atlee squad looking to break into the top three and build towards an even stronger squad in 2011 with several key returnees.
The Atlee coaches have to keep the hyperactive and competitive twins at bay from killing each other in races and workouts as well as cross their fingers for no false stars or DQ's in each race, but also know this set of twins with their talent and excitement for the sport has taken their team to a level which has not been at on the state level for a decade when current jumps and hurdles coach Nick Robinson and Brian Ford made them one of the top programs in the state under the guidance of long-time head coach Jim Triemplar.
Interview with Marques Atkinson
MileStat.com: When did you first get involved with track and why?
Marques Atkinson: i started track in eighth grade and i got involved because i wanted to see if i could beat my brother.
(Photo right by John Herzog)
MileStat.com: You ran a 1:05 500 in a polar bear meet last month at Douglas Freeman, which was a state leading time. How surprised were you with that two second drop from your previous personal best?
Atkinson: i wasn't surprised because i have not ran that hard all year and i've been practicing all off season to achieve that time.
MileStat.com: Do you feel confident that you can translate that 1:05 performance on an outdoor track to a 200 meter indoor track?
Atkinson: Of course in fact i think i could drop my time even more.
MileStat.com: Who do you view as your top competition this weekend at the state meet?
Atkinson: My top competition will be Anthony Kostelac in the 4x800. Of course, Taylor Sykes and even my brother in the 500. Also Darrell Wesh in the 4x400, but the one who tops them all will be Taylor Sykes.
MileStat.com: What will you concede that your twin Michael is better than you at?
Atkinson: (Laughing) i will say the 300. Our coaches try not to compare us but in the end we want to be the best.
(Photo left by Ryan Kelly)
MileStat.com: Your team scored over 100 points at the regional meet to become the first squad to do that since 1984. With your team as the heavy favorites coming into the meet, did you and your teammates talk about breaking the century mark as a goal?
Atkinson: No, we were more focus on our individual events .
MileStat.com: You have had your share of false starts and DQ's. Why do you think that you seen to be snake bitten with FS and DQ's and what are you trying to do to avoid them in the future especially at the state meet?
Atkinson: I get way too nervous even though i know i'm going to win. i also get too worried about the little things, but when i win bigger races like states, i won't be worried about false starting.
MileStat.com: You ran cross country this past fall for Atlee. How tough was running 5000 meters compared to other events on the track and did you see any benefit from doing cross country for this current track season?
Atkinson: To be honest it was not that hard at all. It affected my speed a little but i gained by far a lot more endurance.
MileStat.com: Of your three wins this past weekend at the regional meet, which race was the toughest for you?
Atkinson: The 4x800 was the hardest race for me at regional because it was my third time ever running 800. i had the 1000 leading state time Grant Pollock behind me and i knew he was not going to be easy to beat, but i ran my race hard and smart for the victory.
(Photo right by John Herzog)
MileStat.com: Atlee is one of a handful of teams in contention for the state title this weekend. What do you think needs to happen in order for the team to come out on first?
Atkinson: For every one to go big and finish high like my brother and I winning the 500. Our pole vaulters finishing among the top competition. Andrew Catanese (3200) and Trevor Elie (55) scoring points and on top of that, both of our 2 relays placing.
MileStat.com: What is most valuable advice you have been given from Coach Triemplar and Coach Robinson at Atlee?
Atkinson: ''Work hard and the results will show.'' - Coach Robinson. ''Don't ever rip your shirt off you represent Atlee High School.'' - Coach Triemplar.
MileStat.com: During the recent snow storms, how did you stay fit and in shape when the roads and track were snow covered?
Atkinson: I did not care what the weather was like. i still went out and did my workouts.
MileStat.com: You compete in a wide range of events in the hurdles, jumps, sprints, relays, and mid-distance races. What do you contribute as the reasons why you are so versatile and also so willing to compete in so many different events?
Atkinson: Most people run for themselves. i run for my team and i also run cause i want to be the best. Not in a cocky way but with confindence.
(Photo left by John Herzog)
MileStat.com: If you had to decide, which event do you think you are best at? On the same topic, which event do you think you could really improve at and why?
Atkinson: I would say the 500 but i think the thing that makes me such an athlete is being able to do some many events. i think that i could improve in the 500 to a 1:03 or 1:02 before i leave high school.
MileStat.com: You and your brother are juniors while many of the other top athletes on the team are seniors, so this could be your team's best shot to finish high at the state meet. How much is your motivation to do well on the state meet to also help those seniors get a team trophy at the state meet?
Atkinson: I'm so ready to win states and the Atlee boys have never won a state title before, but tnext year we are only losing two seniors Shaowei Tu and Wes Steenburgh.