Monday, June 8th, 2009
Strong efforts from local D-III tracksters
By Bruce Monnin
New Bremen's Justin Eilerman took fourth place in the 3,200 meters state track m. . .
COLUMBUS - The New Bremen boys were the top area squad in the team standings at the state track meet with their fourth-place finish. Other teams to score included Minster in 34th in the boys' standings, while on the girls' side of the ledger Minster finished 14th, Parkway 34th, Marion Local 39th and St. Henry 65th.
In track and field, when a team title is not a possibility, the goals of individuals come to the forefront. Many individuals and relay teams from the area managed to reach the podium of top-eight finishers at Saturday's finals portion of the state track meet.
The Cardinals had five events on Saturday, and combined with their results from Friday had a chance to finish at or near the top of the team standings. Some of those hopes died when runners from Garfield Heights Trinity won four events Saturday to earn the state championship and Pandora-Gilboa had a couple of runners greatly exceed expectations to lead their team to runners-up honors.
The New Bremen boys did finish in fourth place with 25.5 points, the second-best finish in the history of the program and their sixth finish in the top 15 of the team standings in the last seven years.
First up was senior Jeff Kremer in the 1,600-meter run. Kremer started out strong, leading after the first lap. He dropped back to fourth or fifth at the halfway mark, then back to seventh after the third lap. He moved up to sixth place with less than 200 meters to go, and moved up one more spot by the finish to claim fifth place.
Kremer later participated in the 800-meter run. Kremer was in 13th place after the first lap, then he started working his way through the field during the second lap. He finished in ninth place, just one position short of making the podium.
Next up was junior Zach Speckman in the 300-meter hurdles.
"I made a big improvement from my sophomore to junior year," said Speckman, who was eliminated in the semifinals of the regional meet last year. "I hope to do the same next year."
Some people look like they are just gliding over the hurdles without much effort during this race. Speckman, on the other hand, had the look of a fighter going over each hurdle, as he battled to a fifth-place finish.
"I just went all out," explained Speckman. "I was trying to go for whatever I could get."
Justin Eilerman entered the 3,200-meter run after a regional qualifying effort where he finished in fourth place, not far ahead of the fifth-place runner who could have taken away his spot in the state meet. He immediately claimed he would do better at the state meet.
Better would be an understatement. Eilerman started the first lap in the lead, then slowly fell back into eighth place after the sixth lap. He moved up a bit into seventh place during the second to last lap, then exploded during the final lap to place fourth in the event. Eilerman shaved 10 seconds off his regional time, setting a personal record and school record with his time of 9:38.86. Someone back in New Bremen was impressed by Eilerman's performance, as the Dairy Queen in town already had their congratulations to Justin posted for all to see Saturday afternoon.
Eilerman was quick to credit the improvement to the fact he did not run the 1,600-meter run earlier in the day.
"Running the 1,600 takes so much energy out of you," said Eilerman. "I haven't had to run since the 4x8 yesterday morning. I've been taking it easy since then."
Finishing off the day for the Cardinals was their 1,600-meter relay team. Speckman and Kremer returned from the team which finished in eighth place last year, joined by two new members, junior Michael Travis and freshman Elliott Westerbeck. This year's team finished in sixth place, a little over a second faster than the time posted by last year's team.
Westerbeck had a new experience at the meet, as his team is usually in front of their competitors.
"It makes me run a lot faster, trying to catch everybody," explained Westerbeck. "I just tried to get the baton to our last two strongest members of the team."
Travis seemed to really enjoy the experience of running at the state meet.
"I loved it. You hear all the roaring on the backstretch," admired Travis. "Sometimes you even hear an individual teammate yelling. It helps push you until you have nothing left."
The Minster boys had two relay teams running Saturday, the first of which was their 4x200 relay. Junior Ty Whitford was the only returning runner from a team that finished fifth at the state meet last year. He was joined by seniors Bryan Phlipot, Tyler Richard and Jordan Boeke.
Whitford got the team started with a strong first leg.
"I was feeling pretty powerful in the starts," said Whitford of his first leg of both relays. In fact, every one of the Wildcats turned in good legs of the race.
"We had to give Jordan (anchor runner Boeke) a chance," said Phlipot. "He was running against (100- and 200-meter dash champion) Bobat."
Boeke took the handoff from Richard and brought the team home in sixth place. Though it was one spot lower in the standings than last year, the team set a new school record, over a second faster than last year's team had done at the state meet.
Shortly afterward, it was the turn of the 400-meter relay team of Whitford, Phlipot, Boeke and senior Alex Abbott. No school record was set for this team, but they bettered their spot on the podium, finishing fifth. They were running sixth near the end when Boeke outleaned his competitor from Archbold. He leaned so far for the line that he lost his balance and took a header into the track after crossing the line.
"That dive at the end was pretty desperate," agreed Boeke, as his teammates started joking that he ought to be pretty good at it, considering all the times he has practiced it.
Boeke admitted, "I've fallen a few times at the line this year."
Part of the reason for the team's high finish was their well executed handoffs.
"Our handoffs were pretty good," agreed Abbott. "I hoped we could have finished even higher with those handoffs."
The last member of the Minster boys team to run was Joby Stechschulte in the 800-meter run. Stechschulte had the slowest regional time of the 16-man field, but started fast and was in seventh place after the first lap. Stechschulte could not hold off the others during the second lap, but managed to finish in 13th place.
One Minster girl competed during the Saturday running finals. Jessica Albers placed eighth in the 1,600-meter run last year and was between sixth and eighth place for the first two laps. Albers then started to fade back in the field and ended the race in 13th place.
Marian Bevington had been to the state track meet three previous years in the 100-meter hurdles. As a freshman she finished ninth with a time of 15.52. As a sophomore her time improved to 15.40, and she finished in fourth place. Another improvement her junior year brought her time down to 15.25 and moved her up to the third step on the podium. For her final chance to compete as a high school athlete at Jesse Owens stadium, further improvement was definitely in the plans.
Bevington appeared to be ever so slightly in the lead as the field approached the second to last hurdle, then her top two competitors inched past her to leave her in third place once again. Bevington's time of 14.96 was a great improvement from the year before and was fast enough to have won the event last year.
When asked how her competitors were able to get by her, Marian explained that one hurdle did not go as smoothly as she wanted.
"I hit the second to last hurdle," admitted Bevington. "That slowed me down a little."
Her time shows it didn't slow her down very much, but at the state track meet the difference between those fighting for the title is often razor thin. Bevington's third-place finish was still the best of all local athletes at the meet on Saturday. As a senior, Bevington leaves Parkway and will run track next year at Heidelberg College.
The Flyers' 800-meter relay team of Kristina Bruns, Rachel Hess, Elizabeth Reichert and Allison Bruns all returned from the team which posted the 11th-best time during qualifying at state last year. So, it was not surprising when junior Allison Bruns stated that their biggest goal was to get on the podium. That goal was accomplished when they ran to the sixth-fastest time during Friday's preliminaries. However, the girls were no longer satisfied just to get on the podium.
"We still wanted to go out and do really good," added Bruns.
For seniors Kristina Bruns and Elizabeth Reichert, it was their last chance at the state meet.
"It was a great way to end our senior year," admitted Kristina, who got the team off to a great start as she sprang out of the starting blocks.
She then worked to close the gap on the Fort Loramie girl in the next lane, thus getting the team near the front where they stayed all race. Reichert concurred that it was a great team effort.
"We ran hard and whipped it!" said Reichert, as she usually does after a good performance by her team.
The team finished fourth, posting their second-best time ever. Sophomore Rachel Hess summed up their performance most succinctly as they gathered in the infield right after the race, saying to her teammates, "That was awesome!"
Like Bevington, this was Carmen Moorman's fourth year in the 400-meter dash at the state track meet. Moorman did not get out of the preliminaries her freshman and sophomore seasons before breaking through to place sixth as a junior.
Moorman came into the finals with the slowest time in the eight girl field, and thus had to run in the first lane, where you start from behind and can see all the other competitors. This was a new experience for Carmen.
"The only other time I ran in lane one was during state preliminaries my freshman year," said Moorman. "Coach told me to catch the first runner in the first corner," described Moorman.
That is usually difficult for a runner in the first lane to do because the other runners in the field all had better times in the preliminaries. Unfortunately, it didn't occur in this race either.
Moorman finished eighth in the event and was able to end her high school career with her second straight trip to the podium.