All-American Walton is ‘loaded with talent’

This is the Copper Walker. It is a brown screenprint produced by Marcus Walton. Walton is a print-making major.

Hallie Hocker

This is the ‘Copper Walker’. It is a brown screenprint produced by Marcus Walton. Walton is a print-making major.

Hallie Hocker

His head coach likes his attitude, his teammates like his sense of humor, and his assistant coach likes his self-customized Sam the Toucan sneakers.

However, senior All-American track athlete Marcus Walton would not want to bring attention to himself.

“He’s unselfish and a great kid,” said men’s head track and field coach Tom Rutledge.

Rutledge said there has been more than one instance in the last two years of Walton’s experience as a Lion that Walton has sacrificed individual glory for the team’s gain.

Walton said it is not as much fun to go to the national championship by himself. He would have rather had more of his teammates go with him, including high school teammate Kyle Davis who is a junior distance runner for Southern.

Davis described Walton as the “go-to man” in track.

He said when the team is preparing for the conference meet, they never need to worry about Walton’s events because he always delivers.

“He’s loaded with talent,” Davis said.

He said especially in the 800-M run and the last leg of the 4×400-M relay, the team already knows Walton has points for the team.

“It’s almost a shoe in,” Davis said. “It’s not even a question of if he’s going to flop.”

Davis said he is a very dependable teammate.

“Pretty much anytime he is going to get the job done that coach is looking for,” Davis said.

He said Walton has a special relationship with every coach he works with.

“That’s definitely a good characteristic of any athlete,” Davis said.

Rutledge said two things he likes about Walton is that he doesn’t have to discipline Walton and he’s very easy to get along with.

“He’s a lot of fun to be around,” Davis said.

Davis said Walton definitely likes to have fun and joke around.

“He is very personable and very likeable,” Rutledge said. “Everybody on the team likes him.”

In fact, Walton’s favorite part of competing in track and field is the chance he has to meet new people and make friends.

“The people you have in the same events as you…as you’re checking in and warming up, it’s almost impossible not to talk to them,” Walton said.

Now he says he has friends from all over the country he keeps in contact with.

Knowing that, it is no surprise Walton said he didn’t have a hard time making friends when he transferred to Southern as a junior from Rend Lake Community College in Ina, Ill.

“In a small school setting like this, it’s really easy to make friends, especially if you’re an athlete,” Walton said.

He said with all the upperclassmen introducing him to his new teammates, he had no problems getting to know several athletes and not just those from the track team.

“The other week at the home meet there were not a lot of people there, but a lot of basketball and football players were working the meet and they were there. I really like that about small schools,” Walton said.

On his own team, Walton is one of the oldest, however he doesn’t consider himself as the leader. He would rather lead by example instead of telling people what to do.

“It’s not holding yourself as the leader but saying ‘Let’s do it’,” Walton said. “Everybody at this level has a sense of what they’re doing because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be here.”

Even though there is always a possibility he could disagree with part of the workout, Walton makes it a point to never cause a problem with a coach because he wants to set a good example to the younger athletes.

“You could ruin the whole program or the whole year by negativity,” he said. “So if you disagree with what Coach tells you, you swallow your tongue and go with it.”

He said most of the time things work themselves out anyway.

“He’s a good example of having a positive attitude all the time,” Davis said.

Davis said Walton was a good teammate in high school and in college.

“He’s more than a good leader,” Rutledge said. “More than just a good athlete, more than all that.”

Walton is more than an athlete, he is an artist.

As a print-making major, he has been perfecting his fine art skills since he was a boy.

“I did a drawing of Superman when I was little,” he said. “Naturally, it looked like crap, but I kept practicing and it started looking better.”

He said he remembers watching animated television shows and reading comic books and thinking how “cool” it would be to have that as a career.

“What’s normally seen as kid stuff, I love it to death,” he said. “A lot of the images I work on have that kind of background.”

Walton said he is knee-deep in print-making as an upperclassmen but he loves his “work” and wouldn’t be doing anything else.

“In my art classes it’s a snap to put forth 120 percent effort and I don’t even realize that’s what I’m doing,” he said.

He said it would be like having fun for a living.

“It’s the only thing in life I remember that I have never gotten tired of, so having it as a career would be the best move for me,” Walton said.

He said he does a lot of work independently, working with art professor Burt Bucher, to execute his ideas in the best way in hopes of establishing a good portfolio for graduate school.

Walton hopes to earn his masters in Fine Art and teach and coach at the university level.

As for his individual style, Walton says his work is graffiti-inspired. He said there has been a big push to get graffiti off the street and into the gallery.

“There are a lot of artists that start out writing on subway lines and tram lines and now they’re having shows in New York City and other big cities and attracting lots of people,” he said.

Walton, however, realizes he doesn’t want to vandalize, so he incorporates the style into his personal projects.

Last year he created the Superman stencil for the men’s cross country team to brandish their legs in hype for the MIAA conference meet, which they won.

As for his own body art, Walton has an old Nike ad tattooed across his legs: “runs end. running doesn’t.”

He got the tattoo his first year at Rend Lake, when running was his top priority. He would go to class to make the grades so he could run. Since last year, however track has “taken the backseat” to his studies.

“I [run] partly because I love it and also because it pays the bills,” he said.

While Walton will miss competing next year, he will have his eyes set on getting into a good graduate school.

“I’m going to miss it, but I’ll be moving on to bigger and better things in my life,” he said.