As the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships draw near, we’ll take a look at the path that each of Clemson’s six individual qualifiers took to get to the meet in Albuquerque, N.M.
Marcus Parker is a long way from home in Clemson, S.C., as the senior is a native of Phoenix, Ariz. Parker, who is in his final year of competition for the Tigers, came to Clemson ahead of his junior season after transferring into the program following two years at Eastern New Mexico University, an NCAA Division II institution located three and a half hours east of where the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field National Championships will be held starting on Friday, March 13. Parker’s journey back out west is due in large part to a dominant indoor campaign throughout his final indoor season.
Parker’s 2019-20 season began in the best way possible, as the senior set the track ablaze at the Clemson Opener on December 7, breaking the school record in the men’s 300 meters by running 33.20 seconds for the event. Parker’s time equates to a blistering average of 20.21 miles per hour.
Following the December winter break, Parker returned to the track with the same ferocity which he displayed in his season opener, this time contesting the 60 and 300 meters at the Orange & Purple Elite. Parker would go on to finish third overall in the finals of the 60 meters and fifth-overall in the 300 meters.
Parker’s highly anticipated debut in the 200 meters would come at the Clemson Invitational, where his time of 20.84 saw him capture the victory with relative ease. The day prior to his 200 debut, Parker earned the overall victory in the 60 meter dash. The hot streak of high-quality performances earned throughout the early part of the season would remain a theme throughout the remainder of the campaign.
Following a weekend off from competition, Parker returned to action at the South Carolina Invitational and wasted no time returning to business, this time finishing second in the men’s 60 meter dash with a season’s best mark of 6.67. The next day, Parker ran 20.81 in the 200 meters and looked visibly displeased with the time as it flashed on the screen.
The displeasure was short-lived, however, as Parker would run a world-class mark in the 200 meters at the Tiger Paw Invitational the following week, with the meet ranking as one of the top-10 competitions in the world thus far through the 2019-20 season. Parker, contesting in the 200 meters, blasted out of the blocks and left his competition in the wake of his speed and power, sprinting to a time of 20.70 seconds and asserting himself as one of the world’s best in the event.
Watch the race that set the track on fire!#ClemsonTrackXC pic.twitter.com/9CH9QXVBHG— Clemson Track & Field 🐾 (@ClemsonTrackXC) February 15, 2020
Watch the race that set the track on fire!#ClemsonTrackXC pic.twitter.com/9CH9QXVBHG
— Clemson Track & Field 🐾 (@ClemsonTrackXC) February 15, 2020
Following the Tiger Paw Invitational, Parker shifted his focus to ACC’s and lived up to the hype in the men’s 200 meters, stealthily executing a preliminary race which saw him earn the top-seed into the finals of the event and then edging out a victory to capture his first individual ACC title. His victory in the 200 meters also signified another milestone, as it marked Parker’s fifth victory in his five races at the distance this season.
The series of performances throughout the year have resulted in Parker garnering two world-class rankings, with Parker’s 200 meter time of 20.70 making him No. 8 in the World, while his time of 33.20 in the 300 meters slots him into the No. 11 position amongst the event’s World rankings.
Parker now enters the National Championship as the individual leader in the men’s 60, 200 and 300 meters for Clemson, along with serving as the anchor on the team’s fastest 4×400 meter relay squad this season. Parker’s 20.70 also makes him the No. 3 performer in Clemson history for the men’s 200 meters.
Along with the high-quality performances delivered by Parker throughout the season has been an impressive quantity of events contested, as he has taken to the line a staggering 16 times to compete in individual events, along with being a part of the squad’s 4×400 meter relay team on three occasions.
Parker is no stranger to the national spotlight being on him, as the senior competed in the 200 meters and 4×100 meter relay at the 2019 Outdoor National Championships. Parker’s maturity and racing prowess will look to serve him well in the preliminary round of the men’s 200 meters come Friday, as the senior will look to add another feather to the cap of what has already been a phenomenal season.