Hello and welcome to “Podium Moments”, a series that discusses the performance of the three athletes or teams that place on the podium after a competition. Today’s article will cover the three teams that finished on the podium for Event 9 of the 2020 Marble League!
With every finals appearance they make, the Minty Maniacs continue to prove their qualifying position in the 2020 Marble League, and with every medal they earn, the Minty Maniacs continue to prove that their gold medal in Balancing was not a fluke.
The story of the 2020 season has so far been defined by this team’s success, as they have succeeded in a vacuum where the rookies and five-time veterans are scraping by in the bottom half of the standings. The Maniacs’ own rookie appearance in the League fared similarly to the Hornets’ and Bees’ debut, as they earned only one medal in an otherwise terrible first season, but everything has changed now. The goal that the team is working for—to have the most funds donated in their name to community food banks—has driven the team to earn two gold medals already. With the team so close to a third, why did Minty Flav boost Ocean up to the lead to win the finals race?
“I mean, it’s not like I intentionally bumped them up to win the race. That would have been an act of poor sportsmanship,” said Minty Flav, reflecting. “The Oceanics have been through a lot, though, and they did really well earlier on in the event. I knew in my heart when that collision happened that if the Oceanics were going to win that event, that they would treasure that moment and be proud to have a donation made in their name.”
The Hazers, in a similar fashion to Team Momo, have come from a rough start to the season to make the podium in two consecutive events—and they’ve done so by outsmarting Team Momo’s overtakes both times. After a earlier collision in the semifinal where Mo seemed to have taken the advantage by overtaking Hazy, Hazy hit a straightaway, accelerating ahead of Mo and towards the finish line. Although Mo came close to catching up, Hazy was already more than a length ahead by the time they crossed the finish line, qualifying for the final.
Hazy had a less consistent edge over the finals, bumping up to second during the race thanks to an early collision from Swifty. They may have secured only a bronze if Minty Flav had not collided with Ocean from behind, but Hazy was able to stay a decisive length ahead in the end, securing another medal for the Hazers and lifting the team into sixth overall. Perhaps they have broken the third place curse.
Over two years ago, the Oceanics were second overall going into the semifinals of the Sand Mogul Race. They were one point behind the O’rangers, who had not made it past their initial heat, and they had the chance to win the entire tournament as long as they made it to the finals and won the event. The Oceanics’ 2018 season, with 2 gold and 1 bronze medal, was a definitive season for a team that had previously been mired in the middle of the pack. This was the Oceanics’ chance to win it all.
Of course, we all know what happened. The Oceanics choked in a spectacular fashion, placing last in their heat while the Midnight Wisps and Savage Speeders moved on, podiuming overall ahead of the Oceanics in third. They floundered in a dramatic fashion in the 2019 Marble League, earning no medals and finishing in dead last—all while hosting the tournament. Even after a regular offseason of training, uninterrupted by a potential debut in Marbula One, the Oceanics still couldn’t get it together at the beginning of this season after qualifying in third. The team recently set a new record for the most consecutive events without earning a medal, breaking the Pinkies’ 26-event streak.
Ocean’s gold medal in this event symbolizes so much for a team that has been trapped in Davy Jones’s locker during the past two years. It may not symbolize a Marble League championship, and it may not even redeem the Oceanics of their collapse last year…but it does prove that the team has grown. After their fans left their home stadium in disappointment, after sitting at the bottom of the standings two events ago, and after 27 consecutive failed attempts to get on the podium, the Oceanics have done it.
With the first half of the season in the books, the second half officially began with this event, and as the results of this event proved, the championship is still any team’s game—even the Oceanics’. Although the teams in the top five of the standings have remained steady, the middle of the standings has begun to shift, getting closer and closer within range of the top five. Will any team be able to catch up and unseat the O’rangers, or will teams at the bottom of the standings, such as the Green Ducks, wake up and join the chase?
In conclusion, it is indeed a milestone to see three teams at the end of each Marble League event stand above the rest, because they—through months of training in the offseason, working to qualify, and dealing with the unquestionable presence of fortune that affects any sporting event—have preserved and put their best roll forward. They deserve their “podium moment”, but more than anything, they deserve their chance to shine.
Until next time, keep on rolling!
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