Monday, June 7th, 2010
Phlipot sprints his way to 200 meters state title
2010 Divisions I-II State Track Meet
By Bruce Monnin
Minster's Sam Phlipot charges hard for the finish line on the way to winning the. . .
COLUMBUS - There were just six events featuring Grand Lake area athletes on Saturday at the running finals of the Division III state track meet at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus.
The highest-placing local boys teams were Minster and New Bremen, which finished 15th and 19th, respectively in the team standings.
On the girls' side, no area team finished higher than the Minster girls in 19th place. The Versailles girls team had a great weekend, winning their first-ever state track championship over Steubenville Catholic Central and Gates Mills Gilmour Academy, the team that finished ahead of them for last year's state crown.
However, for most area athletes, the state track meet was more about individual accomplishments.
Boys' 100 and 200 Meters
The Minster boys' lone entrant on Saturday was junior Sam Phlipot, who had posted the fastest qualifying time on Friday in both the 100 and 200 meters.
Although Phlipot had participated in the 400- and 800-meter relays at the state meet as a freshman, he did not run track at all as a sophomore due to a shattered growth plate where his hip and leg come together, caused by his bones growing faster than his growth plate.
Thus, while he had some state meet experience, this was his first time competing in Columbus as an individual.
Phlipot lined up at the start of the 100 meters with high hopes. However, he was slow getting out of the starting blocks and never caught up with the leaders, finishing fourth.
"I did my best in the 100, which is the race I like better, since it is shorter," explained Phlipot. "I just looked up too early at the start."
Two and a half hours later (including an hour weather delay shortly after his first race), Phlipot lined up to compete in the 200 meters.
This time he stayed down more coming out of the blocks, but still fell behind the early leaders, but by a much smaller margin. Coming off the corner into the 100 meters of the homestretch, Phlipot began moving up in the standings, pulling even with the leader with about 15-20 meters to go.
They ran neck and neck until the end when Phlipot forged into the lead and held off the second-place runner by a mere four-hundredths of a second.
Despite his early deficit, Phlipot felt he could still win and thus achieve one of his objectives for the day.
"I always come back in the last 100 meters," he added. "One of my goals was to win something, though, I thought my best chance was going to be in the 100."
With his title, Phlipot became the first male individual from Minster to win a state event since the late 1990s.
Boys' 800 Meters
New Bremen junior Dillon Webster entered this race with fourth-best time from last week's regional races. He completed the first 400 meters in sixth place, but slowly fell back in the field and finished a disappointing 11th place, three spots short of reaching the podium.
Boys' 3,200 Meters
New Bremen senior Justin Eilerman finished fourth in this race at last year's state meet and entered this year's competition with the ninth-best time from last week's regionals.
When the race started, Eilerman took his usual spot at the front of the field during the first lap, but uncharacteristically fell back to seventh place during the next two laps.
"I was holding back a little bit," said Eilerman. "But the field was also a lot faster than I normally see."
Eilerman held on to finish seventh, four seconds slower than last year, but the fastest time he had run all season. Coming toward the finish line, Eilerman demonstrated how important it is to the athletes to finish in the top eight in order to earn a place on the podium. Eilerman turned his head almost all the way behind him to see if any of his competitors were going to catch him.
"I knew I was either in seventh or eighth," explained Eilerman of his look back. "I about killed myself making sure no one passed me."
Boys' 1,600 Meter Relay
The third and final event of the day for the Cardinal boys was their best. They finished third, setting a new school record in the process, and bettering their previous-best mark they had set in Friday's preliminaries by over two seconds.
Senior Zach Speckman was the Cardinals' lead-off man. He had been part of New Bremen's eighth-place team in 2008 and its sixth-place team in 2009.
Speckman started out in the sixth lane, where he would only be able to see the two runners in front of him in lanes seven and eight.
"It's basically like running blind," explained Speckman. "I just try to pass anyone outside of me."
Speckman had won a spot on the podium as an individual in the 300 hurdles last year as well as two previous times as part of this relay team, but there was no doubt in his mind which experience he preferred.
"I like being up there with the team," said Speckman. "It is more fun."
Sophomore Elliott Westerbeck took the baton for the second leg and positioned his team in fifth place. Westerbeck was asked to compare the team's third-place finish with last year's sixth place.
"It is a lot more fun being third," he commented. "The competition here was amazing compared to last year. But this year we all ran great."
Senior Michael Travis was the third runner and he passed two competitors in the backstretch, which he stated played a part in their strategy of moving him from the anchor leg to the third spot.
"As long as someone is close in front of me," claimed Travis. "I think I can catch them."
With the two teams ahead of them breaking the old Division III record, junior anchor Dillon Webster's job was to keep the Cardinals in third place. At the end of the backstretch, a competitor tried to pass him on the outside, but Webster found a burst of speed to keep that from happening and forcing the other runner to fall in behind him on the corner. Despite the energy used on the backstretch, Webster was still strong enough to keep from being passed to the finish line.
"One of my strategies is that no one is going to pass me," proclaimed Webster. "Another is that no matter how hard I run, I always have something at the finish. I run like the line is 10 meters past the finish, to complete the run."
When he compared the relay to his disappointing finish in the 800-meter run, Webster showed the importance of being part of a team.
"I had to save some in my 800," he admitted. "The seniors in this relay deserved a good result."
Girls' 1,600 Meter Relay
The Minster girls' relay team of sophomore Samantha Hoelscher, juniors Sophia Richard and Maria Dahlinghaus and senior Alyssa Kemper qualified Friday with the slowest time of the eight teams to earn a position in the finals.
They finished this race in the same eighth place to earn the final spot on the podium.
Kemper has been an important member of Wildcat track team for four years and had participated in this relay race at the state meet each of the last two years. Still, this was the first and only time she had earned one of the coveted spots on the podium.
"I'm glad I could have the experience," commented Kemper of her first time finishing in the top eight. "I was a lot more relaxed than usual knowing that we weren't going to win, but were going to be on the podium."
Versailles Girls Win Division III State Championship
It was a very good day for Midwest Athletic Conference member Versailles, as it won the 12th state title in school history, and its first in girls' track.
Versailles had been building toward winning a title in girls' track for several years now, having finished in third place in 2007 and in second place in 2009.
The team title was obviously a priority for the Tigers. After Tammy Berger won the 3,200 meters for Versailles' only win at the state meet, she only seemed concerned with talking about how important it was for her to earn those 10 points to help the team, not what the individual title meant to her.
Tiger coach Mike Goubeaux echoed the theme of team effort being the key.
"A lot of great track athletes have walked our halls. But these guys lived the dream today. They set five school records and lots of personal records."