‘I’ll never forget the competitive fire that was Marcus Wheeler’
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The only word that can be used to describe the last month at Corona del Sol. The death of two senior classmates, one from a deadly cancer and the other from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Tragic.
On Tuesday, May 12, senior Marcus Wheeler took his own life on campus. He will be remembered as a star athlete, as he won the division one state cross country title this past November.
I had the pleasure of calling Marcus my teammate and classmate. He transferred to Corona my junior year with a competitive fire that very few can rival.
He refused to lose.
His junior year he had sights set on a top-3 finish in the state cross country meet and team title. Marcus went on to finish third and the cross country team went on to win its first state title in over 20 years.
Going into his senior season, Marcus was the number one returner in the state for cross country. He knew it was his title to lose. His sights were solely focused on nothing but winning every race he ran and, after some tight battles with Mesquite’s Tyler Day, Marcus ultimately came out on top, winning his first state cross country title.
I have absolutely no doubt that the state title was Marcus’s proudest moment in life. The euphoria I saw in him that day, November 8, 2014, was unlike any mood I’ve ever seen him in in my two brief years knowing him. On May 12 I lost a teammate to a suicide, a fellow captain. Many people lost a friend. Those are both things no one should ever have to go through. I will never forget Marcus.
I’ll never forget the competitive fire that was Marcus Wheeler. When he stepped out on the course or track, he knew he was the one to beat. He knew he was the best one out there. He feared no one. He was out there with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.
That is one thing I want to implement into my life that was exemplified in Marcus. I want to step out onto the track in college believing I am the best out there. I want to fear no one. I want to have the competitive fire that he had.
That attitude of “fear no one” is why I am so shocked by this. Marcus’s self confidence was unlike any other. His self-confidence truly seemed to make him invincible, undefeatable. He certainly convinced me that he was invincible, which is why I have yet to believe that he is truly gone. I am aware of many of the tough situations that he had been put through while at Corona. I know that there were many people over the course of the last two years that have reached out to him and tried to help him—myself, the cross country team and coaches included.
Those who were close to Marcus, do not hold yourself accountable. You were there for him when he needed you and things were just out of your control. Together we will get through this, yet again.
The class of 2015 has dealt with more loss than probably any other class in Corona’s history. Starting the summer before sophomore year our class lost one of my closest friends, Daniel Butwin. In the last month we lost Ridge Vanderbur and now Marcus Wheeler. Time after time my class has proven to be resilient. Overcoming what feels like death after death. No one is tighter-knit than my class. No one.
Something I’ve been pondering ever since Ridge passed is this: is it good or bad that death brings us all together? It’s good in that we can be each other’s support system, but at the same time I believe it is sad that it is only in death that we set aside our differences and come to the table to show genuine love and care for one another.
I can say that after Daniel’s untimely death I was truly amazed at how the 2015 class came together to support each other. I was amazed once again after Ridge passed, and there is no doubt in my mind that my class will once again amaze me in the way they care for one another in yet another time of tragic loss.
Over my four years at Corona there have been numerous deaths. Of more students than are listed in this column, of family members and friends. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my four years it is that life goes on. School continues as is, with finals right around the corner. AP tests continue to go on as scheduled. The world doesn’t stop, which is why I am proud of my class for the way they surround those who are struggling with love.
I’m proud to say I am a part of such courageous class. A class that has fought through the death of three classmates in four years. A class that has gone through more horrific loss of loved ones over four years than some people may ever experience. A class that continuously surrounds each other with love and support. A class that never stops fighting through the pain and for each other when times get hard. A class that continuously seems to pick itself up off the ground time and again.
No one can challenge the class of 2015 when it comes to resilience. Through this tragic situation, we will continue to show love to each other, even as we go our own ways for college.
Life goes on, but never ever forget.