The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Melissa DeVaughn
LOG Editor 

Pacing his future

Seward runner signs letter of intent with college in South Dakota


Michael Marshall, the youngest of the Marshall running family in Seward, has signed with Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D. He will run on the cross-country, and indoor and outdoor track teams. He follows in his older brother’s footsteps, becoming a college-level runner.

Marshall, a senior at Seward High, has been a standout athlete and student at the school since he entered as a freshman.

“I think he’s ready for it and looking forward to getting out of Seward and experiencing something new,” said Seward High School athletic director Al Plan of Marshall’s plans to attend school out of state. “Academically, he’s very capable – he’s almost, if not as, gifted athletically as he is academically. He will do very well.”

Most recently, Marshall placed fifth in the Class 1-2-3A boys 5K cross-country running championships in Anchorage in October, with a time of 17 minutes, 14 seconds, helping his team to a second-place state finish. And in July, he finally won the race he’s been entering since he was in grade school – the boys junior division of the Mount Marathon July 4 race.

“I don’t even really know if Mount Marathon is on South Dakota’s radar,” said Marshall, laughing. “I think a lot of times when college coaches look at Alaska runners, there is this thought that ‘these kids are tough, they grow up running in the mountains.’ ”

Marshall signed his letter of intent with the Black Hills Yellow Jackets last week. Meanwhile, he plans to stay in touch with his coach there, and head to South Dakota with training on his mind. That means he won’t be tackling the men’s Mount Marathon Race this summer, which he ages into this year, and for the first time in his running career, he won’t be coached by one of his parents.

“My mom was my middle school cross-country coach so I went right from middle school with my mom to high school with my dad (Dan Marshall has been the Seahawks high school coach for about two decades). “It will be different, but I think it will be fine.”

Marshall said his main goal for running in South Dakota is to see just how far he can go in his training. As a high-schooler, he has trained diligently, but in college, the intensity increases.

“I’ve put in some decent training, but my dad is really good about not letting us overdo our mileage (as high-schoolers),” he said. “In college, I’m looking forward to pushing myself a little bit more as far as weekly mileage and threshold.”

The Marshalls are a family of runners. Brother Jacob currently runs for Montana State Billings, and his parents are both avid runners and competitors. Last summer, Michael spent the summer working at a specialty running-shoe store in Portland, while living with family friends. The experience, living away from home and family, helped him prepare for the college journey he is about to experience.

And he’s already scoping out the competition.

“I’ve looked at some of the guys’ times straight out of high school, and (the coach) has got a trend of picking guys around my time – I’ve got some decent times, but nationally they’re not up there.”

That’s where he thinks a new college focus will help him refine his skills.

“What I saw is how good (the coach) was about developing athletes,” he said. “I was so impressed to see how far they went in college, and I really think he’s super into developing athletes.”

Plan, the SHS athletic director, said he has no doubt that Michael Marshall is just scraping the surface of what he can accomplish.

“He’s pretty gifted,” Plan said. “He can pretty much do anything he puts his mind to.”

Reach Melissa DeVaughn at


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