Marc Sylvester - He Runs Track

\"Dude, \'G,\' I\'m not shaving my legs.\" Yes, that\'s Marc Sylvester talking. \"Just give me fifteen minutes coach and I\'ll convince the whole team to shave their legs for states!\" Utters 110m High Hurdle State-qualifier Jonathan Gannon.

To the common track nut, pointing out Marc Sylvester would be about as easy as trying to run with Frank Shorter for a marathon. What many people fail to realize is Marc is just like any other kid on the team, and acts like it too. This kid,

Marc and the St. Ignatius 4x400 team
who opted to drive 8 hours with his team instead of taking a free plane trip to Raleigh, North Carolina for the Adidas Outdoor Track and Field Championships, is all about team and isn\'t afraid to show it. As he prepares for the OHSAA State Track Meet this Friday and Saturday and Nationals on June 15-16, Marc continues to strive towards one goal, to be national champion, and he\'ll do it the only way he knows how, by being the best he can be.

Thriving in Ohio in track is one thing, expecting national attention is a whole other issue. Ohio is one of the most dominant states in America for high school football, especially where Marc goes to school. Saint Ignatius High School has won 8 state championships since 1988 and 3 national championships. Getting recognized in the shadow of this dominance is unheard of. Sylvester is used to just getting a side note or a one liner in the paper.

After winning the 800m at the Nike Indoor Classic the headline was \"Pre-race Favorite Ahmed Upset, Finishes Third; Sylvester Triumphs.\" Instead of asking the winner about his performance, the article instead chose to talk about Massachusetts star Said Ahmed and how he took third. One wonders how the 800m will be talked about if the pre-race favorite doesn\'t come through again.

Now with the breaking of Jim Ryun\'s High School Mile record, Alan Webb has taken the hot seat for high school track and all the focus is on him. \"As long as he can handle it right, the Webb hype is great for the sport,\" says Marc on the 3:53.43 miler. \"I\'m just glad to be one of the guys they mention when they talk about this new coming of young runners.\" \"Marc has never been one to bask in the glory of his own successes,\" states teammate and brother Eric Sylvester. \"Getting the attention is not what matters to him, succeeding in what he was naturally blessed with is all he wants to do.\"

Last year around this very time, Marc\'s lung collapsed for the second time in his high school career. One might have just called the season quits and focused on next season. However, with 3 weeks until Nationals, Marc rebounded and gave his best shot at the 800m at Nationals. He came up third with a time of 1:49.69. First place was 1:49.61 by Jonathan Johnson. \"I didn\'t win, but a photo finish and a sub 1:50 effort after being in the hospital for a week was a great thing to have under my belt. Last year just made me more motivated for this year. I hit the weight room and worked on form.\"

That must have been enough motivation, based on how he has done this year. Not getting a \"real\" race until the Roosevelt Memorial in Dayton, Ohio on May 5th, there Marc held off two time Colorado State 800m champion James Hatch to win. Sylvester set a new meet record of 1:50.82 and Hatch was second in 1:51.23. When Districts rolled around two weeks later, usually when most runners are experiencing a heavy leg period, Marc popped a 1:49.61 in the 800 by himself, just .11off of his own state record. A week later he broke that record at the Regional meet, which fell when Marc ran a 1:49.07. He came back later that day to anchor the 4x400 relay with a 47.27 split.

\"My coaches have been great for me this year. [Doc. Ray Heipp and Coach Kyle] have laid out great workouts and have had me peak at right times. They have really helped me get to the level I am at right now. My teammates are important as well. They push me in practice and they keep things light and happy at practice. They are my boys.\"

Many track fans across the nation await the showdown at nationals and some anticipate a possibility of watching someone run sub 1:50 and getting 5th! On June 16th, forces will collide as the nations fastest Jonathan Johnson (1:48.21) meets Sylvester (1:49.07), Said Ahmed (1:51.88), James Hatch (1:51.23) and possibly Alan Webb (1:49.53). "I wish I could be a spectator watching this one because it will be exciting," states Marc on the race. " It's going to be one crazy race where strategy is going to be important. It'll be great to see how it all unfolds. All the people in this race are extremely talented and it is probably the best field in a lot of years. I am honored to running in a race that will probably be remembered for a long time."

As Marc prepares for the 800m at nationals, so do two other relay teams. The 4x400, compiled of Darren Adams, Trevor Duer, Tony Gonzalez and Marc, have run a blistering time of 3:16.6 as they prepare for the State meet and Nationals. When pushed, this Ohio juggernaut foursome could surprise many nonbelievers who state they are a one-man relay. "Our relays are not just one man. There are three other guys running their hearts out as we strive for our goal, a state championship and maybe even a national championship."

Marc running the open 800.

The 4x800 relay, containing the Sylvester duo along with Mike Fernbach and David Molina, is another relay where not much is expected. Although their fastest time of the year is a 7:49.40, they have a very strong possibility of going 7:39 or under. With three guys who have been clocked between 1:56-157 and a 1:49 anchor, the possibility of this fearsome foursome turning heads at nationals is very likely. \"We all work together at Saint Ignatius. It\'s not all about me. I would rather run at a meet in Ohio with our team, than go to some meet out in California or Pennsylvania.\"

Marc\'s positive team attitude has really influenced the team too. Younger brother Eric, who runs on the 4x800 with his brother, states, \"It\'s a lot of hard work running with him because he expects everyone else to work as hard as he does, but he just wants us to exceed. It puts a lot of pressure on us other guys, but we do our job, and in the end it\'s a lot of fun.\"

After High School, Marc will start focusing on his college career at the University of Tennessee. \"Tennessee was just great. The team is like one big family and they are really good right now, coming off of winning the SEC Championships, beating Arkansas. The coaches were wonderful and I felt right at home there.\" He chose Tennessee over Michigan and Arkansas.

As for his future Marc states, \"I have a lot of running ahead of me and we\'ll see how I come along after I start the college level workouts. Who knows what\'s in store for me. I could have a breakout year, or I could fizzle away. We\'ll see, but, man, it\'s going to be fun.\"

For right now he\'s not worried about the future, all he wants to do is fulfill Saint Ignatius\' team goal this weekend, a state championship. He is going to help the only way he knows how, by being the best he can be.

\"Alright \"G,\" I\'ll shave my legs.\"

Article granted by A.J. ANDRASSY, exclusively for June 1, 2001