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Mount Zion's Simmons enjoying breakthrough season

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Mount Zion junior sprinter Marquett Simmons is having a breakout season as the Bulldogs are in contention for the county championship this week.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Mount Zion junior sprinter Marquett Simmons is having a breakout season as the Bulldogs are in contention for the county championship this week.

JONESBORO — Marquett Simmons admits that he misses participating on the football team, but the Mount Zion junior realizes that he has bigger aspirations.

And those include helping the school’s track and field team become successful as he tries to earn a scholarship.

Simmons says that he doesn’t want to risk another injury in football, because it could setback his track career.

“My concentration is fully on track,” Simmons said after competing in the 400-meters Tuesday afternoon at Twelves Oaks Stadium as a tune-up to Thursday’s Clayton County Track and Field Championship.

But track wasn’t always his first sport of choice. He competed in football until after middle school. It was during his seventh-grade year at Kendrick Middle that his football coach invited him to tryout for the track team.

He became an instant success, until he broke his ankle playing football in the eighth-grade. Not able to recover in time, he lost to an underclassmen in track during his final season of middle school track.

When he arrived at Mount Zion, the team had several talented upperclassmen. Simmons got lost in the mix while competing on the varsity level.

But now, he is having a breakthrough season.

According to the latest ga.milesplit.com rankings, Simmons has the No. 15-fastest time in the state and fifth-fastest in his classification in the 100 meters. He has a season-best time of 10.77 seconds, which he achieved at the Patriots Invitational last month.

His time of 21.98 seconds in the 200 is the third-fastest in Class AAAA.

“I knew coming into the season that I was getting faster,” Simmons said. “I felt that I could do well this season, I just didn’t know how soon.”

Simmons spent the summer with the Georgia Stars Track Club refining his skills. He qualified for Nationals in Texas this summer in both the 100 and 200 events, which he reached the second round.

“It helped a lot going to Texas this summer,” Simmons said. “There is always someone faster than you. It motivates you to try to get to their level.”

Simmons doesn’t like talking about personal goals. For him, its team first.

“I’m the team captain,” Simmons said. “I want what is best for the team. We want to win region and state. My goals are mostly about our team. Yes, I want to do well in my events, but I feel the team will reach their goal if everyone does their part.”

Mount Zion coach Jason Battles thinks that the best is yet to come for his young star.

“He made some noise last season,” Battles said. “He came back from the summer a lot stronger. We knew it was coming for him. We feel he is going in the right direction.”