MONMOUTH — The path to the top was not an easy one for Monmouth High School senior Marcques Houston.

It was just two years ago that his doctors were unsure if Houston would ever walk again — let alone run.

“I was pretty scared because I’d been going to the doctors and they couldn’t figure out what it was,” he said. “To find out what it was something that could keep me from doing sports ever again was pretty scary.”

Houston did return, however, and did so in a big way. At the Class C championships this spring at Foxcroft Academy the Mustang’s senior struck gold three times, winning the 200, 400 and placing first as a member of Monmouth’s 4×400 relay team.

For his leadership, ability to overcome adversity and excellence on the oval, Marcques Houston has been named the Kennebec Journal Boys Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Maranacook senior Kelby Mace was also considered for the award.

“He was just fantastic getting out there, doing the workouts and pushing the kids to another level,” Monmouth coach Tom Menendez said. “It’s almost like having another assistant coach out there.

“…One of those kids you hate to see leave just because there’s no way you’re going to replace him.”

Houston — who also played basketball during the winter at Monmouth — began running cross country and outdoor track as a freshman, but it soon became apparent something was wrong. He suffered from chronic knee pain and his doctors could not figure out what was wrong.

Eventually he was diagnosed with an osteochondral defect in his knees, which caused the bottom of his femurs to swell and the subsequent pain. It would take four surgeries to correct, the first of which occurred in late fall of Houston’s sophomore year.

“The day after my first surgery was the state cross country meet,” he said. “I showed up in a wheelchair to watch the team compete.”

Houston continued to go to practices and games throughout his sophomore year, even though he knew he could not play.

“I just thought it was important for me to go and show support for my teammates,” he said. “I still felt like I was part of the team.”

After his surgeries Houston’s doctors were still uncertain whether or not he could compete in athletics again, but eventually he worked his way back and was cleared to play.

“They were very cautious if he was going to run again,” Menendez said. “He came back a little bit more last year. This year was his big push.”

Houston was a leader both on and off the track for the Mustangs this season, and was fully or partially responsible for all of Monmouth’s 36 points at states.

“It was a big surprise,” Houston said, “and a very good feeling to be able to come back from something like that.”

A few short years ago it seemed like Houston’s career in athletics was coming to an end but as it would turn out, it was only just beginning. This fall he will continue his academic and track career at Colby College.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: Evan_Crawley

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