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Mariner duo finds success on the track and the field

Updated: May 25

It’s hard to top a week like Parker Atkinson and Zach Tetler just had.

Last Monday, they helped Marine City to a baseball league title in the MAC-Gold.

On Tuesday, they traded the diamond for the oval where they won the MAC-Blue championship track meet.

And on Friday, the boys won a pair of regional titles as members of Marine City’s 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays.

“It was kind of funny because you could hear the coaches say, ‘These kids weren’t here last time,’” Tetler said. “It was actually super cool because we broke the school 4x200 record.”

Parker Atkinson and Zach Tetler race in the Region 19 championship 100-meter dash.

And they did that in only their third meet of the season.

Atkinson, a junior, and Tetler, a senior, have played baseball for years. It’s their primary sport — along with football, in which they also won a league title last fall — and they’re quite good at it.

In last week’s game against Roseville, a win would guarantee the Mariners the outright league title, and they managed just that with a 10-1 victory. They led their team's lineup with two hits for two RBI each, including a home run from Tetler. Atkinson also pitched 4.2 innings, striking out five and allowing just two hits.

Track, on the other hand, is relatively new, but they seem to be just as talented.

“At the start of track season, I didn’t expected [things to go this well],” Atkinson said. “But as things went on and I was seeing my progress, I thought there might be a chance I could do pretty well, but definitely wasn’t expecting to do as well as we did.”

The previous 4x200 school record was one minute, 33 seconds. Atkinson and Telter, along with Bodie Ramsey and Grant Westrick, won the Division 2 Region 19 with a time of 1:32.51.

“I think I’ve only gone to two track practices. Just with the baseball schedule being so busy and having so many games a week, I always go to the baseball games first,” Atkinson said, “and then days we don’t have baseball games, I’ll be at baseball practice, so not too much time to practice track.”

“It helps that we play different sports together so we kind of have some clue of what each other’s speed is,” Tetler said.

And knowing one another’s speed is key in a relay, and these Mariners didn’t seem to miss a step. Following the 4x200, they won the 4x100 in 44.95 seconds, which is impressive, but not quite like the 44.22 they ran earlier in the week to snag the MAC-Blue title.

Atkinson also qualified for the State Finals after he placed second in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes with times of 11.16 and 23.34. Not bad for a kid who just put on a pair of spikes for the first time this spring.

Despite their success on the track, however, their sprinting careers will likely be put on hold as the Mariners pursue a district title in baseball. The tournament is the same day as the track and field State Finals, leaving them to choose between the two, and they both said baseball means more.

“The senior class and my class, I’ve played with them since I was six or seven years old,” Atkinson said. “It’d be pretty cool to win the my best friends growing up.”

“It’s definitely fun,” Tetler said of track, “but I love baseball so any chance I get to play it I’m going to.”

The Mariners will begin district play on Saturday, June 3, against St. Clair in Richmond. It will be a rematch of their second game of the season when they lost 5-0, but Tetler said he’s confident in the team’s growth over the last two months.

“I’m feeling good. Our team is bonding together and we’re really figuring out what roles everyone is going to play,” he said. “At the beginning of the season it was like just go and mix it up and see how everyone does.”

Tetler and Atkinson talk in between innings of Tuesday's baseball game at Cros-Lex.

One of the adjustments they’ve had to make is for the absence of senior pitcher Jeff Heaslip. After football season, he underwent shoulder surgery, keeping him off the mound. One solution has been the sophomore duo of Danny Van de Vyver and Paul Muscat, who’ve combined for six shutouts so far with 6-3 and 5-1 records, respectively. And sophomore Cooper Letson completes the young trio behind the plate.

“Danny and Paul have really stepped up on the mound,” Atkinson said. “And Cooper, I think he's caught every single inning for us this year. He’s amazing, he’s great – almost perfect behind the plate…Those three sophomores have stepped up humongously for us.”

With increased chemistry, obvious speed, and league-winning momentum, Marine City will look to make its postseason run.

The Mariners now stand 17-5 overall on the season with a 13-1 league record. They'll play one more game tomorrow night against MAC-Blue champion Lakeview in preparation for next week's district.


For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli

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