Game of Throws: WIU's Marshall is proving a homegrown find for the Leatherneck track and field program


He grew up, figuratively speaking...a stone's throw from Western Illinois University.....

Although, given his specific skill set, Bushnell may have only been literally a stone's throw as well from Macomb for Nathaniel Marshall....

And young man, who as Ross Green details, iscasting a rather large shadow of his own on Leatherneck Track.

"In high school, it was just kind of something to do. It filled my schedule and got me in the weight room to prepare for football, and I didn't really think about it as being my future,"

There was a time when Nathaniel Marshall viewed throwing simply as a training exercise. But luckily, that changed before he graduated from BPCA in 2010.

"In my senior year of high school, I realized that I could do this in college and I needed to start progressing,"

And since that time, in a span of just 3 years, Nathaniel has turned what was once a time-filling activity into a four-year commitment at Western Illinois, and has become one of the Summit League's best throwers in the process.

"Its done a lot for me, its made me a lot more competitive, that's for sure. Now I'm competing with throwers that can go out to the extent that they do. In high school, I was competing with a tape measure, now I'm competing with athletes. Its pretty special to compete at a higher level than high school,"

He speaks of reaching new levels of competition, but lately, Nathaniel has been the one to set the bar. Most notably, he's recorded a pair of top 3 throws in school history, and won the indoor conference championship in the weight throw back in February.

"I started out the indoor season strong, I set a PR in the first 4 meets. It was a great start, and then I kind of went down into a slump, and I came out at the right time for conference,"

Marshall has flourished here in his junior season, and a stellar indoor campaign has given him plenty of fuel for this year's outdoor track and field season. All along, he's had his eye on next week's Lee Calhoun Memorial Invitational. The one event where those who saw the beginning of Nathaniel's career can see him continue it against some of the nation's best.

"It means quite a bit for me because this is the only close meet that we have where my family can come out and support me and where I'll have a good-sized cheering section. It means a lot for me to show what I can do in front of my friends and family,"

Now comes the time to set a new goal. Having qualified for the NCAA regionals as a sophomore, its obvious where Nathaniel plans to take his next big step.

"I want to make it to the national meet. That's every college thrower's goal at the beginning of the season is to make it to the next step. Since I made it to regionals last year, I need to go a step further and make it to nationals,"

Beyond that, Marshall's senior season will provide the opportunity to cement his Leatherneck legacy. And beyond that, he's got a few years to consider Olympic qualifying.

"It comes down to dedication, it comes down to whoever wants to work the hardest and who's going to put the time in to do what needs to be done,"

Some goals just take time. And for Nathaniel Marshall, what a difference a little time can make. Ross Green, KHQA Sports,