Zach Phillips beats Morenci's oldest track and field record 6.4

Written by David Green.

Many talented Morenci distance runners have tried to run a better mile than Rich Towne who set the standard in 1965. Until last week, every one of them had failed.

Enter Morenci junior Zach Phillips. His name will take the place of Towne on the record board as Morenci’s most enduring track feat has finally fallen.

Phillips’s best 1600-meter run last year was 4:58, bast week at the DTII county meet, he finished at 4:31.2 for a new record to eclipse the 4:33.6 set by Towne.

A week before the race, Phillips looked through the 1965 Observers and finally located Towne’s record-setting run. It was the last race of his high school career—the state meet at Mt. Pleasant. He ran a 4:35.2 mile, which was later converted to a 1600-meter equivalent.

Phillips had recently run a disappointing 1600-meter race at the regional meet and missed qualifying for the state competition. Life soured more when a running mentor, Johnnie Pike, died in a house fire.

That tragedy might have provided Phillips with the inspiration he needed to win.

Blissfield’s Justin Bateson led for the first three laps at the county event.

“I knew he would go out fast,” Morenci coach Brad Brown said, “and Zach let him lead.”

The pace was almost where Brown wanted it half way through the race, but a slow third lap had him worried.

Addison’s Donnie Freed made his move for the final trip around and Phillips went with him. At the 200-meter mark, Phillips turned the race around.

“Zach just took off and blew him away,” Brown said. “It was exciting and it was pretty emotional. Under the circumstances, I thought it was an amazing performance.”

Phillips said he saw the clock before that final lap and he knew it was possible.

“I definitely did it for Johnnie,” he said. “That’s what pulled me through.”

Phillips has another season to improve on his own record and also to go after the 800-meter record, now 24 years old. Phillips has come within a second of matching that mark.

 

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016