Monday, June 6th, 2011
Webster, Minster relays capture state titles
State Track and Field Championships
By Bruce Monnin
New Bremen's Dillon Webster leads the field by a wide margin on his way to winni. . .
COLUMBUS - Three different sets of area athletes left the running finals of the state track meet at Jessie Owens Stadium in Columbus with the title of state champions.
New Bremen's Dillon Webster got the momentum going with a dominating win in the 800 meters and the Minster girls' and boys' 1,600-meter relay teams finished the event with close victories.
Division III Boys' 800 Meters - Dillon Webster
It took until the 28th of the 34 events at the Division III state track meet, but an area athlete reached the top of the podium when Dillon Webster destroyed the field to win the 800 meters.
Webster took off at an even faster pace than local fans are used to seeing from him and was already well separated from the field after the first 200 meters. The audience in the stands were not used to such a fast start, and the murmurs and pointing from the fans indicated they realized Webster was already involved more in a race against the clock than one against his 15 competitors.
At the end of the first lap, Cedarville's Troy Parrett tried to catch Webster, much as he did at last week's regional meet. But this time Webster increased his speed even more to open up a huge gap.
"Last week I had Parrett on my tail the whole time and he almost had me," commented Webster on the reason he refused to be caught.
Webster has been one for setting and meeting goals the last few weeks. At the Midwest Athletic Conference meet, his goal was to break the 13-year-old meet record, which he did with a time of 1:55.23. At the district meet, his goal was a time of 1:55, and he ran 1:54.99. Before his regional race Webster mentioned running in the 1:53's and his time was 1:53.38.
So what was his goal for state?
"My goal for the day, from the beginning of the year, was 1:52," stated Webster. Though he wouldn't say so, the state Division III record of 1:51.54 may also have been on his mind.
Webster charged alone down the homestretch, with the clock displayed in front of him at the finish line. He crossed in a time of 1:52.07, a personal and school record, about half a second short of the state mark. He admitted his curiosity may have cost him a chance at the record.
"One thing I should never do is look at the clock. It slows me down."
Division III Girls' 4x400 Meter Relay - Minster
The next area state championship was provided by the Minster girls' 1,600-meter relay team of senior Maria Dahlinghaus, freshman Olivia Enneking, sophomore Natalie Fausey and junior Samantha Hoelscher in the last race of the day for the Division III girls.
They edged Fort Loramie and Convoy Crestview to win the state championship with a season-best time of 4:00.82.
Dahlinghaus has been a member of the team for visits to the state meet during all four of her years in high school. The best finish she had previously experienced in the event was eighth place in 2010.
"I've never been on the top of the podium in all my years. It is a great experience," continued the only senior on the squad. "The best thing about it is that I am the only one leaving."
After the initial leg, Dahlinghaus handed off to Enneking. Coming out of the second turn, the runners are allowed to leave their lane and cut down to the inside of the track. Enneking put on a burst of speed to pass the Fort Loramie runner to move into fifth place before starting the back straightaway.
"I like to try to get in front of people right when we are cutting down, because I don't want to be caught in the middle when we are coming around the next curve," explained Enneking about the strategy behind her move. "I knew Fort Loramie was going to be one of our biggest competitors, so I wanted to get a lead for our next two runners."
Enneking finished her leg in fourth place and had almost caught up to the third-place team. She handed off to Fausey, who seemed to explode with a burst of speed. Sometimes a runner who is inexperienced with the excitement of the state meet will start out fast and then run out of energy before completing their leg.
"It was my first time at the state track meet. I was nervous," admitted Fausey.
Despite her inexperience, Fausey never ran out of gas. Instead, she moved her team into first place and gave anchor Hoelscher the head start she was going to need.
"I just took off and tried not to slow down the whole time," said Fausey.
Unlike many relay teams, the Minster girls do not have a runner for the final leg who is significantly faster than the rest of their squad. Instead, they rely on the consistency of all four runners for their results. So it was not surprising when Hoelscher was passed by runners from both Fort Loramie and Crestview during her run.
However, Hoelscher displayed the resilience that leads to championships. She repassed both runners on the homestretch, then held off a late charge from Janel Olberding, the Fort Loramie anchor.
"I knew she was coming. At regionals she did the same thing to me," recalled Hoelscher of their loss to Fort Loramie a week before. "This time it ended up differently."
Hoelscher seemed almost as pleased about the Minster boys' win in the same event.
"It was a great feeling for both teams to finish on top," said Hoelscher. "We didn't have the fastest-seed times, but we came in and did what we had to do. It's a great feeling. It's what we've been working for all year."
Division III Boys' 4x400 Meter Relay - Minster
The last event of the Division III meet turned out as well for the Minster boys as the previous event had for Minster's girls. The team of sophomore Troy Kaufman, senior Oliver Barga, sophomore Korey Schultz and junior Derek Collins won the 1,600-meter relay with a school-record time of 3:22.11.
Kaufman ran the initial leg and appeared to have his team in contention with the rest of the favorites, especially those in the nearby lanes.
"When we have an outside lane I always say I have to stay ahead of the guys on the inside of me. So whenever people start coming up I try to run harder," explained Kaufman of his philosophy for the race. "I just try to give the rest of the team the best chance that I can."
Barga took the handoff for the second leg and found himself in the middle of a pack of runners, something he had not experienced until the tough competition of the state meet.
"When people are ahead of me it gives me something to chase after. It gives me incentive to push harder."
Barga was the only returning member from last year's 12th-place team, but found the experience was not much help. "It was definitely more nerve-wracking (than last year). It was nothing like I've ever felt before," admitted Barga. "I've felt pressure before, but state pressure is different than everything else. It can be your friend or your foe."
Barga worked his way into fourth place by the end of his lap. As he came down the front stretch, the Minster girls' 1,600-meter relay team had left the awards stand area and were cheering his team on from the inside of the track.
Did Barga notice?
"Not at all," he claimed. "I was just trying to find Korey out of that whole mess," admitted Barga.
Schultz, like Fausey had for the girls, moved his team into the lead. He passed one runner on the final turn, then passed two more on the home stretch.
"It's all a blur," stated Schultz well after the race. "Towards the end it was getting kind of sketchy. I didn't really know if I was going to be able to pull off any passes on the home stretch, but it felt like the other guys started slowing down."
Collins took the baton with the lead and never gave it up. An opposing coach once stated that Collins may not be the fastest runner in the race, but he was too stubborn to let himself be passed. Three other teams finished within a second of Collins, and were never far behind him the entire anchor leg.
"I could definitely feel the guys behind me," admitted Collins. "I turned it on coming down the last 100 meters because I knew I had to. I had so much adrenaline coming down the home stretch, it felt like a big dream."
With Barga being the only senior on the squad, it is a dream they will hope to repeat next year.