Saturday, May 15th, 2010
By Bruce Monnin
Records fall as Wildcats, Tigers take titles
Midwest Athletic Conference Track Championships
  FORT RECOVERY - The Minster boys and Versailles girls earned runaway victories at the finals of the MAC track meet Friday night.
Five different conference records fell and two others were tied, but the best was saved for last. In the concluding event, the boys 1,600 meter relay, three different teams all bested the old record in a thrilling finish to the night.
The Minster boys ended the night with 1431/2 points to easily win their league leading 10th conference title and their first team title since 2001. Last year's champion New Bremen Cardinals finished second with 1081/2 points.
Leading the charge for the Wildcats was a dominating performance turned in by Sam Phlipot and his teammates in his four events.
The level of his success on the night can be summed up by the fact that his least impressive result on the evening was in the 100 meter dash, where he merely tied the old MAC record of 10.90 while teammate Tyler Whitford finished third.
Phlipot and Whitford later turned in a 1-2 finish in the 200 meter dash. Sam crushed the old meet record in this event, finishing with a time of 22.10, besting the mark of 22.52 set by Coldwater's Andy Moorman last year.
In the 800 meter relay, Phlipot and Whitford were joined by Derek Collins and Oliver Barga to break yet another record set by Coldwater in 2009. Phlipot's sprinting talents were less needed in this event as his teammates had spotted him a sizeable lead before he ran the anchor leg.
"They are fast enough I always have the lead when I run this event," admitted Phlipot. "I just have to not get caught. I don't like people catching me."
Before the start of the 1,600 meter relay, you could see the members of the Minster, New Bremen and Versailles teams crowd the fence around the track in anticipation of the race. They were not to be disappointed.
The first two legs saw New Bremen, Versailles and Minster start to pull away from the field. Whitford and Eric Piening had the Wildcats in third place when the baton was handed off to Oliver Barga, who passed Versailles and finished his run just behind New Bremen.
"If Oliver hadn't set the table, we would have been hurting," complimented Minster coach Larry Topp.
Phlipot started his anchor leg in second place and passed New Bremen's Michael Travis entering the third corner. But Travis refused to fall away, remaining on Phlipot's trail the rest of the race while Versailles' Damian Winner was catching up. The three sprinted down the home stretch with Phlipot holding on for the Minster victory. All three teams posted a time which easily beat the meet record established last year by New Bremen. Minster's winning time of 3:24.20 was also good enough to set a new school record.
Sam knew the others were pushing him as he finished off the race.
"I could hear Damian behind me so I knew I had to run faster," explained Phlipot. "He is the MAC record holder in the open 400 after all."
The New Bremen boys also won four events on the evening, with Zach Speckman and Justin Eilerman each emerging victorious in a pair of races.
Speckman won both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles, defeating Parkway's Hank Bevington each time. Zach was happiest with his win in the shorter race, where he says that he has been feeling improvement, but that his 300 meter race hasn't quite clicked yet.
"I always have that bad leg that still hits some hurdles," he admitted.
Eilerman's two wins were in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs. As is his custom, in both races he sprinted out to a big lead partway through the first lap, then slowly extended his lead. Though he was pleased that his times in both events are dropping, he was disappointed by the absence of Versailles' Sam Prakel, who was missing due to illness.
"You always want to run against the best runners," he explained.
The only other local boys' winner was Coldwater's Alex Gray in the 800 meter run. Alex may have shown the most emotion at the finish line on the night, throwing both arms in the air as he won the race.
"I was just happy to have won the MAC, as there were eight of us with the potential to win the event," commented Gray. "I'm not one to make promises, but I told coach earlier this week that I would win. Coach reminded me of that promise just before the race."
The Versailles girls dominated on the night, scoring 164 points to easily defeat Minster with 128 points and to over double the 76 points scored by the third place teams from Marion Local and Fort Recovery.
Versailles won nine of the twelve running events in the meet, including setting a new record in the 400 meter relay. Tammy Berger was a double winner for the Tigers, winning the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs.
Minster secured their second place with only one event win, as Kayla Wuebker tied a personal record of 11-0 in the pole vault. She tried to break the old meet record of 11-3, but couldn't quite clear the bar.
"I thought I had it," said Wuebker. Her sights are set still higher. "I want to get 11-6 by the end of the year."
One last local win on the night came from Coldwater's Veronica Bruns, who outlasted Minster's Maria Dahlinghaus in the 800 meter run. It was the first time the two had competed against each other, and Veronica was extremely happy to have come out ahead.
"It was my dream to be an MAC champion one time," admitted Bruns. "Now is the time."
Most of the MAC schools will move on to the Division III district meet at Minster next Thursday and Saturday, while the Coldwater girls go to the Division II district meet at Shawnee. Both Versailles squads move on to district competition at Milton Union, the girls Wednesday and Saturday in Division III and the boys Thursday and Saturday in Division II.
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