McDERMOTT — Simply put, for Northwest’s Kailan Marshall, he is getting his band back together again.
That’s because Marshall, the standout senior and Division II cross country all-Ohioan this past season, has officially announced his intention to continue his running and academic career —and close by at Scioto County’s own Shawnee State University.
Marshall will run both cross country and track and field for Eric Putnam’s Bears —one of the top NAIA running programs in the entire country.
He will reunite with former Northwest star and ex-Mohawk teammate Landen Smith, and explained his decision to become a Bear is based upon his desire to run with some Southeastern Ohio standouts.
He specifically mentioned three former Waverly Tigers, along with Alex Morris of Valley.
”I choose Shawnee because I am familiar with some of the guys that are on the team already, so I feel more comfortable. I’ve talked to Coach Putnam for quite some now too,” said Marshall. “It’s hard to make yourself run every day, but once I get back with those guys and everything, it’s going to feel more comfortable.”
Putnam watched Marshall run first-hand at several of his senior-season meets, as his son and Portsmouth High School sophomore Charles ran right with Marshall — near the front of the pack.
The last of which was Marshall’s final cross country 5K —the Division II boys state race inside Fortress Obetz in suburban Columbus.
He punched his all-Ohio ticket by placing among the top-30, starting back in the initial pack but keeping moving forward and gaining some significant separation —and ultimately ending up 24th.
He completed his third and final state race in 16 minutes and 20 seconds —only four seconds off his personal record (16:16), which he set in last year’s (2020) Southern Ohio Conference championship meet at Eastern.
Marshall explained that race, as it should be, as the climax of a stellar Mohawk cross country career.
“That day was probably the most excited I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve worked for the past three or four years running every day and training whether rain or shine. Every day dedication to it for sure. It’s (Northwest career) been great and I’ll never forget it. It’s one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “I am glad it all paid off.”
As for the 2021 SOC meet at Minford, Marshall captured the individual championship — winning the 75-man boys 5K in a fast 16 minutes and 36 seconds, especially given the cooler and more mid-October seasonal weather conditions.
This time at the state meet, Marshall represented the Mohawks as an individual — compared to his sophomore and junior campaigns, in which Northwest advanced as a team.
At this season’s Division II mud-mired regional race at Pickerington North, and in order to qualify for the state, Marshall made the top half of the 28-man individual qualifying field —crossing the finish line in 14th in 17:47.
A year ago (2020), as the Mohawks’ number-three regional runner, Marshall was 13th in 16:53.
In fact, in that same coronavirus-impacted state race, Marshall — who was 85th two years back in 17:06 — rocketed up the leaderboard to clock in at 16:38 and finish 34th.
So, it was ALMOST two races of all-Ohio accolades.
Marshall admitted to being more nervous as a senior state runner —compared to just being “one of the guys” the two years prior.
Of course, he ran behind the likes of Smith and Josh Shope — and alongside Ricky Gambill, Gabe Morrell and Mason Breech.
“It was a big difference. I was more nervous when I was by myself up there this year,” he said. “Even though it was my third year, not having the other guys right there with me felt a lot different.”
Putnam discussed his recruitment of Marshall —and the latest Scioto Countian to become a Bear, and one which who comes into the program not being a traditional team frontrunner.
“We’ve been watching Kailan for a few years now and he has really developed, He had just a terrific senior year. We’ve wanted him to come to Shawnee and I am really excited about his transition,” said the coach. “Kai has ran for a lot of years not being the number-one runner. Often times, we’ve found that those guys make the transition to college running much easier. Kai was behind a lot of his teammates throughout his career until this year. I am interested in seeing how that transitions to the next level for us. He won’t be coming in with the expectation of being the top guy, and he is outstanding at pack running. The thought of Kai coming in and doing that with some of the guys we have coming back is a tremendous prospect.”
Although, also individually, Marshall runs the one-mile and two-mile in track.
Putnam mentioned that Marshall, most likely, will run the 5K and 10K college distances.
“I think he is so good at pacing, so what I envision him is doing well in those long-distance races,” said Putnam. “He’s a great kid and we’re just thrilled to have him. Northwest does a lot of great things out here.”
And, Marshall has lofty goals in mind for his Bears’ running career —as he remains officially undecided upon a major, but said he plans on either Education or Physical Therapy.
“I want to try and make it to (NAIA) nationals, even as an alternate, in cross country and try to improve in track,” he said. “After today, I can focus on track season and then focus on Shawnee.”
For indeed, that’s where Marshall get his proverbial band back together again.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved