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Monday, May 5th, 2008

St. Henry boys repeat without winning an event

By Bruce Monnin

Marion Local's Kathy Dirksen tosses the shot put during Saturday's Cardinal Invi. . .

NEW BREMEN - Not only were area athletes racing each other Saturday at New Bremen's Cardinal Invitational, they were also in a race against the weather.   
Mother Nature won this race, as a driving rain and high whipping winds struck during the last two events, providing the tracksters with one more challenge at the end of the meet.
When the final scores were tallied, it was the St. Henry boys defending their title, and doing so without the benefit of a win in a single event. For the ladies, it was Fort Loramie defeating Delphos St. John's and Marion Local to collect the championship trophy.
On the boys' side, St. Henry was performing so well and scoring so often that coach Michael Eyink did not even notice that his team did not pick up a first-place finish on the day.
"I didn't realize it until you said that," admitted Eyink. "We had a total team effort. Every event ran really well despite having some kids who were sick. We're very happy."
The Redskins did score four second-place finishes with their 3,200-meter relay team, Scott Weitzel in the 800-meter run, Doug Ranly in the 3,200-meter run and Patrick Reichert in the long jump.
The individual star of the meet came from the eastern end of Auglaize County, as Waynesfield's Gray Horn set new meet records in the pole vault, high jump and long jump. He would have had a fourth meet record in the 110-meter hurdles, except that he was edged out at the line by New Bremen's Bryce Bergman.
Bergman earned the honor of breaking the record held by former Cardinal standout Troy Lammers.
"It does mean a lot to me to break one of his (Lammers) records because he was one of the best the area has seen," explained Bergman. "I love the competition between me and Gray (Horn). We've been going back and forth since junior high."
Bergman also won the 300-meter hurdles for the third-place Cardinals, who also received victories from Jeff Kremer in the 400-meter dash and Kyle Knapke in the 800-meter run.
The other victory from an area team on the day came from the Marion Local 3,200-meter relay team of Jordan Schmackers, Taylor Stucke, Garrett Homan and Brad Wuebker.
On the girls' side, Fort Loramie rolled up big points in the distance events to finish ahead of Delphos St. John's, which scored big in the sprints. Marion Local finished third with just one event win, a new meet record performance by Kathy Dirksen in the shot put.
Parkway notched three victories at the meet. Two came from Marian Bevington, who won the long jump and the 100-meter hurdles. The other victory came from Niquie Berry, who threw a personal best in winning the discus.
Berry's teammates and coaches seemed as thrilled with her performance as she was. When asked why she did so well on this day, she credited her recent preparations, as well as an intangible.
"Practices have been going well," explained Berry, "and I was in a good mood today."
The other two wins for local girls came from New Bremen. First, Taylor Jones earned an individual win in the 400-meter dash. Then in the final event, the Cardinals' 1600-meter relay team was fighting both a strong Fort Loramie squad and a strong wind and rain which seemed to have the effect of an invisible hand slowing the runners on the backstretch.
The first three legs of Stephanie Kemper, Lori Timmerman and Caitlin Chaney kept Fort Loramie just barely within striking range. Jones then ran an incredible anchor leg, relentlessly closing the gap until passing her quarry for the victory.
"My adrenaline just kicks in when I know it is for a team and not just individually," recounted Jones. "I thought I'd just go and see if I could try to catch her. I wasn't for sure that I could, but I did and it was fun."
The Mercer County squads will be participating next week in the Mercer County meet on Thursday and Friday in Coldwater.
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