A year ago, he was part of the “Big Three” for the Piscataway High School boys track team, along with Tim Ball and Lance Weaver. Both of those runners have gone on to NCAA Division I programs, leaving Marcus Hatchett by himself in the distance meets for the Chiefs in 2012-13.
“He’ll have to adjust because of the graduation and not having those guys at practice,” Piscataway head coach Pete Buccino said. “He’ll have to be more of a leader and step up into that role, but he can adapt to any situation.”
In the North 2 Group IV meet last winter, Hatchett placed fourth in the 800-meter race, running a 2:00.63, just three seconds behind Weaver. He was even faster in the Meet of Champions race, shaving nearly two seconds off of his time from the sectionals, coming in at 1:58.36.
In the spring he dropped that time to a blistering 1:54 and also cocked 4:15 in the 1600. But Hatchett knows that with a lot of seniors departing from last season’s cream of the crop, the time is now for him to make the next leap toward the top of the state’s distance runners.
“I hope to do that, yeah. That’s the goal,” Hatchett said. “My goal since I started running is to win groups. I’ve started to go into the weight room instead of playing basketball during open gym time, and I’m just paying more attention to the smaller stuff. I’m trying to get stronger and better every day.”
Ball and Weaver, who are currently running for Notre Dame and Saint Peter’s respectively, helped spearhead the Chiefs attack a year ago. Buccino made it known that Hatchett is one of the hardest workers on his team, and that his work ethic will make up for the loss of the other two members of Piscataway’s “Big Three.”
“I think Marcus is going to work really hard to improve,” Buccino said. “He has a great work ethic and takes his training seriously. He’s an excellent team player and Marcus leads by example. He is always running towards more work and never away from it.”
Hatchett mentioned that the loss of Ball and Weaver cut deeper than just running with them on the track.
“Those guys are like my brothers and we hung out a lot,” Hatchett said. “I had to make an adjustment to my life without them around. I had to change the way that I run in meets and I had to change the way I prepare for things. Even practices are different now without them around.”
Buccino also mentioned that two speedy standouts from the Chiefs football team, Jamaal James and Tyrell Judson are expected to return to the oval following their run in the football playoffs.