Multiple Teams · 2014 Giant Year in Review

The Marion Giants experienced a banner year in 2014.  There were so many highlights and memorable accomplishments.  There is a tremendous amount of Giant Pride among our alumni, community, staff and most importantly, our student-athletes.  As we count down the last days of 2014, we will remember ten different highlights from 2014 each of the next ten days. Check back each day to see which Giant highlight will bring a smile to your face as you take a trip down memory lane. We will also list (and provide the link to) the most read stories from our website for 2014.  We hope you enjoy this 2014 year in review as we gear up for another GIANT YEAR ahead of us in 2015.

HIGHLIGHT 10:  Individual Accolades
One of the most exciting things about 2014 was all of the success that the Marion student-athletes achieved.  We had tremendous success in a number of sports.  The amount of All-Conference and Academic All-Conference is extraordinary.  In addition to the NCC awards, we had a number of individuals get recognized at a higher level.  Luke Oliver was 2nd Team All-District in boys soccer, while doubling up with football All-State Honorable Mention honors as a kicker.  Tejas Srikanth was a 2nd team All-State selection in boys tennis.  Kaylan Williams earned two different All-State awards for her season on the girls soccer pitch.  Sasha Glickfield qualified for regionals in golf and was name All-District in tennis.  Alex Lyons and Nick Spitzer formed an impressive doubles team in tennis as they earned honorable mention All-State honors.  James Blackmon, Jr. was the runner-up for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball.  Xavier Aguilar played for the East All-Star Team in baseball.  Will Collins, Jordan Feuerstein, Nick Hernandez, Johnathan Decker and Keiron Sanders all qualified for the State Track Meet.  Emily Murphy went to the gymnastics state meet.  Sabrina Porter ran at the Semi-State Cross Country meet and was All-District in tennis.  Besides Luke Oliver, football had four other players earn Honorable Mention All-State recognition in Darrick Jones, Will Collins, Spencer Reynolds and Noah Graham.  Breannika Jones and Katie Rittenhouse also earned All-State Soccer honors in addition to Kaylan Williams.

HIGHLIGHT 9:  Special Events
Football games saw an increase in tailgating, face-painting and music played during timeouts and before crucial third downs.  The atmosphere at basketball games went to another level.  In keeping with the culture of excellence and doing things in a Giant way, very few high schools do what Marion introduced this year.  A pre-game video was produced by Patricia Gibson, Steve Gibson and Mark Fauser.  It included so many of the Giant Legends and highlight clips that emphasized the tremendous success of Marion basketball.  In the first week of being released to the public on YouTube, it received 5,000 hits.  See the video here. The first three basketball games were special events.  The entire I.U. men’s basketball team and coaches attended the James Blackmon, Jr. All-American Night when new state championship banners, Indiana All-Star signs and retired jersey signs were unveiled.  The second home game honored the memory of Captain Brandon “Bull” Barrett and raised money for a scholarship that goes to a Marion athlete each year.  The next night, retiring principal Lennon Brown was honored as Senator Joe Donnelly recorded a video message for him and Governor Mike Pence wrote a letter praising Brown’s leadership in turning Marion HS into an “A” school.  In addition to the top-notch basketball that is always present at the Bill Green Arena, the atmosphere for the nearly 1,000 season ticket holders and the thousands of other students and community members has been special.  Read about some of the events from a Chronicle-Tribune article.

HIGHLIGHT 8:  Giant Pros
It was a good year for former Marion Giant athletes playing professionally. Not many high schools have as many successful pro’s as Marion. Zach Randolph led the Memphis Grizzlies in points and rebounds (17 &10) as they won 50 games. 2014 was also a good year for Randolph, from a personal perspective, as he married Faune Drake, another former Marion Giant star athlete. Julius Mays, a former Kentucky basketball star, played for Moby Ferrara in the Italian Professional League. Scottie Wood averaged double-figure scoring for UCAM Murcia in the Spanish professional basketball league. Ronnie Russell, a former multi-sport athlete, just bowled a 300 perfect game on ESPN. This was only the 24th time this had ever been done on national television. Devin Randle signed to play with the Evergreen DMV Diplomats of the American Soccer League. Jim Gallagher, Jr. made the cut in 11 of the 12 PGA Champions Tour events that he entered. Erik Barnes qualified for the Professional Golf Tour. In the PGA LatinoAmericana Tour, Barnes had three Top-10 finishes and in the PGA Canada Tour, he had two Top-10 finishes. Brian Balsbaugh, Poker Super Agent, gave the induction speech for Daniel “Kid Poker” Negraneu at his recent World Series of Poker Hall of Fame ceremony.

HIGHLIGHT 7:  National Qualifiers
The Marion High School varsity cheer squad brought home a victory, a nationals berth, and a sportsmanship award at the Hoosier Regional Championship at Warren Central H.S. in Indianapolis on Sunday, Nov. 16. The Giants won their division and got a bid to go to nationals in Orlando, Fla., in February.  “The 18 girls and two guys did an amazing job representing the school,” said coach Ronnie Vermilion, an MHS teacher, noting that he was proud of the award and the nationals bid, but he was even prouder that the judges awarded the Giants the sportsmanship award, which can be given to any squad competing. The Giants were the only squad to complete their routine with no drops. Click here to watch their performance here.

HIGHLIGHT 6:  Regional Champs!
The Marion girls tennis team won the Regional Championship (as well as the NCC and Sectional Championships) and advanced to the IHSAA Semi-State Tournament.  It was their first Regional Championship since 2010.  The Top-25 Giants ended the season at 16-4.  The team was made up of No. 1 Singles Sasha Glickfield (Jr.), No. 2 Singles Sabrina Porter (Jr.), No. 3 Singles Maddie Lester (Sr.), No. 1 Doubles Team Sarah Highbaugh (Sr.)/Katie McCoy (So.) and No. 2 Doubles Team Rachel Jumper (Sr.)/Sam Diedrich (Jr.).  Glickfield and Porter finished the season at 20-6.  The doubles teams both finished at 21-5 and Maddie Lester finished the year with a 17-8 record.  “We were clutch throughout the entire tournament”, head coach Doug Porter told Matt Wilson of the Chronicle-Tribune.

HIGHLIGHT 5:  State-Bound Giants
Seven Marion student-athletes qualified for the IHSAA State Championship Meet in their respective sports, including six in boys track and one in gymnastics.  Emily Murphy became the first Marion gymnast since Emily Guarnieri in 2010 to earn a trip to State.  After finishing 3rd at Regionals in the high beam, she finished 19th out of the 48 top-notch competitors at the state meet held at Ball State University.  Will Collins was runner-up in the 100m dash while also competing in the 200m dash and the 4×100 relay, along with Nick Hernandez, Keiron Sanders and Johnathan Decker.  The 4×100 team won the regional in 43.05 to qualify for the state meet.  Jordan Feuerstein cleared 6’6″ for 4th place at the state meet.  All of these student-athletes represented Marion in a Giant way.  Additionally, Sabrina Porter qualified for the state cross-country semi-state meet.  Even though, it wasn’t technically the state meet, it is very difficult to qualify for this in cross-country.  Her qualifying time of 20:11 at the Regional meet put her 2nd on the all-time 5K list for Marion.

HIGHLIGHT 4:  Personnel Changes
2014 saw some changes in personnel.  Volleyball had a new coach, Kelli Marchello, who led the team to its’ best record in years, including a sectional win.  There is a new gymnastics coach (Anthony Burke) that has been a personal trainer working with some top-notch gymnasts in Washington D.C.  Todd Chin, a member of the 2000 state championship boys basketball team, was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director and handles many of the day-to-day duties of the athletic department.  The athletic department also hired a secretary for the first time in a decade.  Robyn Edwards moved over from the transportation department and together with Todd Chin has helped transform the the Giant Athletic Department.  Jamy Bechler took over the reigns as the Director of Athletics after nearly 20 years at the college level as a basketball coach and assistant athletic director.  Mark Fauser came on board as a creative consultant for Marion Community Schools and has already made a mark on the athletic department assisting in many marketing and fund-raising projects.  Keith Burke will be the new principal taking over for the highly-respected Lennon Brown.  He brings a number of years of successful coaching and athletic administration, which will be a positive for Giant Athletics.  We also say good-bye to Coach Jack Raabe, who retired after the girls golf season.  Not only was Coach Raabe highly successful, but he made an impact on many so many individuals.  We thank him for his service to Marion Schools.

HIGHLIGHT 3:  We’ve Got Blackmon
James Blackmon, Jr. became the first Marion Giant to be selected to the McDonald’s All-American game since Zach Randolph in 2000.  He proceeded to win the three-point contest.  All he did during the summer when he played in the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star series was earn MVP honors and score more points than any other player in the history of the series not named Oscar Robertson and George McGinnis.   So far this fall and winter, all he has done for the Indiana University Hoosiers is lead the nation in scoring for freshmen and shoot better than 50% from the three-point line.  IU is currently 11-2 and in the Top-25.  Here is a clip of Blackmon dunking on Louisville’s All-American Montrelz Harrell at the Madison Square Garden.  The entire IU team and coaches also made an appearance in the Bill Green Arena on November 26th to support their teammate on James Blackmon, Jr. All-American Night.  Here are pictures from that night.

HIGHLIGHT 2:  If You Build It; They Will Come
To borrow the phrase from the award-winning film FIELD OF DREAMS, “if you build it, they will come”.  The past year, in particular, the past 6 months have seen significant construction and face lifts further providing Giant Pride in the community.  Lots of progress was made and it brought the community out to the Marion High School campus.  On August 4th, the fall sports opened their practice season on a brand new artificial turf field.  The Motz Group out of Cincinnati did a great job of putting the field in Dick Lootens Stadium in the timeline they promised at the price they quoted.  This field is a source of Giant Pride in the community.  Our football, boys soccer and girls soccer teams all saw increased attendance figures from the year before.  Bowman construction also did extensive renovation on the stadium’s interior.  The Bill Green Arena also saw multiple improvements.  New state championship banners, new retired jersey portraits and new Indiana All-Star mock jerseys were hung up in time for the first game.  The maintenance crew under the direction of Brad Powell sacrificed a lot of time and did a great job of installing all of these new items, which Pro Prints Gear provided.  The basketball crowd was also presented with a pre-game legends video on a new projector.  For the second basketball game, digitally remastered state championship pictures and retired player biographies were mounted on the walls.  MHS creative consultant Mark Fauser and Director of Communications Patricia Gibson worked tirelessly to make the video and many of the new additions possible.  Marion has great tradition and with these new additions, the pride that our student-athletes and community have increased substantially.

HIGHLIGHT 1:  Will Collins is Really Fast!
In the spring, the Marion junior took second in the 100-meter dash at the state finals with a time of 10.91 seconds.  He lost to Austin Roberts from Carmel who won in 10.83 seconds. Roberts went on to play football at UCLA.  Collins also qualified for state in the 200-meter dash and was part of the 4 x 100-meter relay team that qualified for state.    He won the 100-meter dash at Regionals and got second in the 200-meter dash at both the Regional and NCC meet.  At the Sectionals, Collins won both events.  For his efforts, he was named the Chronicle-Tribune’s Spring Athlete of the Year.  Click here to see his blazing speed during the 2014 football season.

Most Read 2014 Website Stories from
1. New Turf Field Dedication Invitation (July 25)
2. Basketball Pre-Game Video Being Produced (September 22)
3. Basketball Pre-Game Video Released (December 20)
4. 1985 Team Inducted into Indiana Hall of Fame (December 2)
5. New Look Basketball Court (July 17)
6. Upcoming James Blackmon, Jr. All-American Night (November 20)
7. Fall Tryouts & Practice Dates (July 29)
8. Cheer Team Qualifies for Nationals (November 17)
9. Purchase Giant Passes Online (August 12)
10. Home Boys Basketball Game Information (November 25)
11. Winter Pocket Schedule & Updates (November 25)
12. New Field Turf Arrives (July 15)
13. Hunter Smith Speaks to Football Team (July 31)
14. Upcoming Captain Brandon Barrett Night (December 4)
15. Boys Basketball Season Tickets On-Sale (October 30)
16. Boys Basketball Season-Opening Win (November 27)
17.Booster Club Membership Drive (October 28)
18. Zionsville Basketball Game Added (November 6)
19. NCC Soccer Tournament Information (September 24)
20. Community Turf Field Dedication (August 11)
21. New Turf Field Profiled on TV (August 14)
22. Athletes in Australia for International Children’s Games (December 3)
23. Upcoming Principal Lennon Brown Night (December 8)
24. Girls Basketball Preview (November 14)
25. Devin Randle Signs Professional Soccer Contract (August 11)