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 12 of the 2020 Marble League!
The Minty Maniacs may be the surprise contender of the season, but the Oceanics are the surprise of the midseason. Their gold medal in the Sand Mogul Race was hotly anticipated, while their silver medal in the 5 Meter Sprint seemed to come out of nowhere. With this medal, the Oceanics have now medaled thrice in the past four events, and have broken one-hundred points in the standings for the first time since 2018.
The Oceanics’ became the first team in Marble League history to break an existing record in the first heat of an event, with a record finish of 8,588 seconds. Although their record was broken just two heats later, the Oceanics’ spirit persisted, and they advanced to the finals alongside their 2018 rivals, the O’rangers. During the finals, they trailed for much of the race but started to gain momentum as they raced into the anchor leg of the race, and they easily made the podium ahead of last year’s champions, the Raspberry Racers.
With their third medal in tow, the Oceanics are in top form, even if they haven’t risen in the standings. Perhaps the Oceanics’ coach firing from last year really has paid off.
The O’rangers repeated their silver medal from last year’s Relay Run in another show of dominance, as they obliterated the record that the Oceanics had set two heats prior. They moved through the semifinals swiftly as well, advancing to the final against their old rivals, the Savage Speeders. Although they lost out on the gold, Kinnowin was able to hold onto the silver by fending off a last-minute lurch by Ocean, and finished two-thousandths of a second ahead.
The team optimized their roster for this event by putting Orangin instead of Tangerin into the third position, and it paid off in dividends during their record-setting run. As Mandarin accelerated into the handoff, Orangin burst forward and bounced off of the wall, implementing Minty Fresh’s strategy from the 5 Meter Sprint. When it was time for their handoff with Kinnowin, Orangin was already several lengths ahead of the rest of the teams, and they bounced into the center of the lane with near-perfect timing, transferring their momentum just as strongly to Kinnowin, who, even after bouncing off the opposite wall, still finished the run well ahead of Hazy.
After all five of their members earned individual medals, the Savage Speeders came together to earn their first gold medal as a team in a classic, come-from-behind victory, winning neither their heat nor their semifinal but taking the win in a tight final run. Rapidly, coming up neck-and-neck to Orangin, accelerated all the way into the final transfer, giving Speedy just enough momentum to stay a length ahead of Kinnowin and secure a second consecutive gold medal.
Coach Quickly smiled. “My roster choices earlier in the season were spot-on. Each Speeder’s medal gave everyone else the morale boost they needed so that when we came together as a team, we would be a true tour de force.”
It is easy to look at a team that consistently does so well and think that it’s always that simple—but for the Speeders, it is not. The inaugural champions of the Marble League placed fifth overall last year after finishing as runners-up twice in a row, and according to their coach, they did not take it well.
But this year is a new year for the Savage Speeders, and despite their rough start to the season, they have risen to second in the overall standings in a classic, come-from-behind rise to the top. Whether or not they’ll actually get there is a different story—the O’rangers are 10 points ahead as of now—but the season is still far from over.
The narrative of this season, shaped by the teams’ performances in competition, continues to take shape. We can now add the return of the O’rangers-Speeders’ fabled 2017 rivalry as a plotline, one that fans across the marblebase have both anticipated and feared for several years. Will one team roll away with victory? Could a dark horse rise to championship contention? We don’t know the answers to these questions right now, and that is the fun of marble sports.
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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