Posted Online: April 23, 2013, 9:09 pm

Mercer County seniors building toward LTC three-peat

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By Terry Duckett,

Since their first meet together as the Mercer County Golden Eagles in the spring of 2010, the senior members of the consolidated boys' track and field program between Aledo and Westmer have strived to make their collective mark.

Two of the last three seasons, coach Mick Louck's athletes has been the toast of the Lincoln Trail Conference. After finishing second to the Annawan-Wethersfield co-op in the 2010 conference meet, the Golden Eagles have been golden with back-to-back team championships.

Now, the Mercer County seniors hope to make it a three-peat at the May 3 LTC meet in Kewanee, and use that as a building block toward the perfect finale to their prep careers. They look to continue building today at Sherrard's Clifford King Field in the Mercer County Invitational.

"We haven't talked about that, not that I know of,'' said senior sprinter Nathan Fippinger, "but yeah, that's in the backs of our minds. We've won it two years in a row. We went to state for football (this past fall), and now this. This is our year, and it's because of our senior class.''

Fippinger was one of the stars in Mercer County's run to the Rockridge Invitational title last Saturday. His winning time of 10.89 seconds in the 100-meter dash broke a 12-year-old record held by Annawan's Adam Thurston. He also ran on the Eagles' 4x100 relay whose 44.27 clocking broke Morrrison's standard which had stood since 1977.

"I'm proud of how we did,'' he said. "We just work hard, and do what we have to do. We're pushing toward state, but we're working on the little things, and correcting them, just focusing on the fundamentals.''

Classmate Payton Holmes, who joined Fippinger on the 4x100 relay quartet, admits that the Golden Eagles' winning performance at Rockridge could have been even better.

"There (were) some good teams with Monmouth-Roseville, ROWVA and Sherrard,'' said Holmes, who also swept the 110 and 300 hurdles events. "We decided not to stack our relays for this one, because we're saving that for the LTC meet.''

Mon-Rose also aiming high: The Monmouth-Roseville Titans are another team looking to build from last Saturday as they take aim at the West Central Conference's May 3 meet at Sherrard.

"Seeing this type of competition will get us ready for the conference meet, and then the postseason,'' said junior standout Martel Hunter, who counted among his Rockridge achievements a record time of 22.29 seconds in the 200, breaking another mark previously held by Annawan's Thurston. "This does us good.''

E-P boys also standing tall: Not content to bask in the shadow of the highly successful girls' track co-op, the Erie-Prophetstown boys' team is also looking to build on a strong early season showing as they take aim at the May 10 Three Rivers Conference meet in Manlius.

Coming into the outdoor campaign after taking fourth at the indoor state meet, the Panthers have added team titles at Oregon's Gebhardt-Worley Relays and the Fulton Relays. Senior Devin Johnson broke a 56-year-old long jump record at the latter event, and hope to bolster their chances on May 3 when they compete at Geneseo's John McCormick Invitational.

Terry Duckett is Area beat writer for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Contact him at