By GARY R. RASBERRY
COLDWATER — The Lions Invitational is a meet that
brings a lot of factors together.
The first is the fact that it’s the last big meet before
the conference meets that end the regular season.
The second is that a good number of the teams entered will compete
against each other in conference meets and in the same district
meet two weeks from now.
The final is that the top teams in the state coaches poll come
in for the first of many battles up until state.
The girls varsity race provided the battle as the top three
teams in Division III battled for the team title.
The course stayed true as number-one Minster won the girls race
over number-two Versailles by a 35-50 margin. With 16 teams
scoring team points at the race, the numbers show that a big
showdown at next week’s Midwest Athletic Conference meet,
held at the same course as the Lions, is expected.
Both Minster and Versailles coaches were pleased with what the
day brought them.
“I was ecstatic. The times were very fast,” said
Minster coach Jessie Magoto. “Six girls were under 20
minutes, that’s the first time we’ve ever done that
since I’ve been coach. It will come down to the last runner
next week. We had a big challenge this week but it’ll
be even bigger next week. There’s more at stake. ... It
will certainly be a difference.”
“It’s nice to run against a team at full strength
like that,” said Versailles coach Mark Pleiman. “Minster
and our girls were both just great. Kristen Smith for us is
the fastest girl I’ve ever had (finishing fourth overall)
at 19:19. That’s awesome for a freshman. Trish (Krueger),
Corey (Fullenkamp), down the line we really looked sharp today.
... We’ll close the gap a little bit with most of the
teams not being there.. It’ll give us something definitely
to think about.”
Sunni Olding, after taking the Botkins meet off — along
with the other top six runners on the team, looked sharp in
shattering her own course record on the 3.1-mile trek through
the Coldwater sports complex. Olding easily crossed the line
in 17:49.89, 10 seconds better than her old record. Fort Loramie’s
Mallory Albers placed second in 18:58.70 followed by Van Wert’s
Katie Bagley and Smith of Versailles. Minster took the win with
a strong pack, placing its top six runners in the top 14.
Van Wert was third in the meet with 96 points. Fort Loramie,
third in the state in Division III, was fourth with 115. Marion
Local was nearly 100 points behind in fifth place with 212.
In the boys race, the duel between Versailles’ Tyler Barga
and standout Coldwater freshman David Wilker lived up to the
hype for the first 13/4 miles. Barga was ahead of Fort Loramie’s
Marcus Turner and Wilker through most of the markers as the
front of the pack headed back into Community Park for the final
loop before going into Cavalier Stadium for the finish.
In the park, Barga stepped on a tree rut and twisted his ankle,
something that has happened before this season and even prior
to that. Turner immediately took the lead but Wilker was coming
“I just saw Barga go down and saw (Turner) move ahead.
I said to myself ‘I gotta get up there with him,’”
said Wilker. “I got up with him and along the park I started
to speed up. I basically tried to stay with him and tried to
inch ahead. If he sped up, I made sure I sped up.”
Barga didn’t continue the race as a precaution although
Pleiman said the senior wasn’t seriously injured.
“His twist didn’t look too bad from first appearance,”
said Pleiman. “I know he was upset when he went down.”
Wilker came onto the track first and picked up speed on the
all-weather surface, crossing the line in 16:26.94. Ryan Winner
of Marion Local was able to get ahead to Turner and placed second
in 16:37.80. Turner was third in 16:42.48 with Corey Winner
of the Flyers taking fourth.
“We’ve been working on that all week,” said
Coldwater coach Dan Pohlman. “You talk about strategy.
You talk about race preparation — ‘What are you
going to do when you get to that point?’ David is a hard
worker. When you get a kid like that who’s aggressive,
he’s going to take care of that.”
In the team race, Coldwater took advantage and used a strong
pack to take the title with 78 points. Versailles, paced by
an 11th-place showing by Michael Dammeyer, took second with
112 points, just ahead of Fort Loramie’s 115.
“We had four guys in the top (13) today, that was incredible
for us,” said Pohlman. “We’ve been stressing
that all year — ‘We have to have a pack.’
Today they proved that. Now the key is to keep that same pack
and have it closer together.
“We don’t want to take this win for granted. We
know Barga wasn’t in there. We’re happy to win but
we want to win for real. We want Barga in there. That makes
it all fun. We sure hope he’s in there next week and truly
have a great competition.”
“Our guys ran really well. I’m proud of them,”
said Pleiman. “Mike Dammeyer really stepped up. So did
Eric Wood, Clint Hufford. Those guys really stepped up and did
a really nice job.”
Fort Loramie took the boys junior high title while Minster took
the junior high girls race.
The MAC returns for its annual meet on Thursday at Coldwater.