By Bruce Monnin
COLDWATER -- The Coldwater boys and the Minster girls each captured their respective titles at the Midwest Athletic Conference meet on an ugly, rainy night which slowed the runners' times but failed to effect or dampen the level of competition.
The Coldwater boys scored 150.5 points to comfortably take the boys' title. New Bremen put in a strong performance to compile 100 points to finish in second, ahead of third-place Versailles with 86, fourth-place Minster with 82.5 and fifth-place Marion Local with 75 points.
"It was a team effort. They deserve this victory," stated an excited Coldwater coach Dan Pohlman. "We haven't had a MAC boys track championship in 20 years. All week we were talking that we had to focus and prepare ourselves. The boys and girls alike performed quite beyond my expectations. I never dreamed they would perform as well as they did."
Coldwater came out of Tuesday's preliminaries as the slight favorites, but kept stretching the lead as each event was completed. The Cavaliers put the meet away with strong finishes in the distance events, placing two people in the 800 meters (Marty Schoenherr in second and Kyle Rutschilling third), the 1,600 (Schoenherr in first and David Wilker second) and the 3,200 (Wilker in first and Jason Bruns fourth).
New Bremen finished second in the team standings, paced by Troy Lammers, who not only finished first in his known specialties, the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, but also won the 100-meter dash and was only stopped short of the quadruple-winning day when New Knoxville's Tom Wiest defeated him by 0.01 seconds in the 200-meter dash. The 100-meter dash is a new event for Lammers and he performed so well he'll have to consider running it at districts next week as well.
"Right before the MAC meet coach asked me if I wanted to run the 100, and I said sure," said Lammers. "Coach said it was up to me right now. He thinks I can make it to state."
In the girls' half of the meet, Versailles held a slim lead for most of the day, until Allie Brown and Karen Brackman finished first and fourth in the 400 meters to give the Lady Wildcats the lead. Subsequent first-place finishes by Joanna Gruber in the 800 meters, Sunni Olding in the 3,200 meters and by the 1,600 relay team kept Minster ahead for good, as it finished with 142 points, just ahead of Versailles with 130.5. Coldwater scored 90.5 points to edge into third place ahead of New Bremen with 86.5 points.
"The girls all pulled together as a team," stated Minster coach Kristin Heitkamp. "We talked to them yesterday, and they knew what they had to do."
Allie Brown came up big for the Wildcats, setting her personal record of 9-0 while finishing second in the pole vault, running a leg of the winning 1,600-meter relay team, and winning the 400 meters in come-from-behind fashion.
"Coming down the backstretch I was about five meters behind and I was thinking that I wasn't going to lose," recalled Brown. "I just tried to pull it out of somewhere, and I guess I did."
While the rain was slowing everyone else down, Minster standout Sunni Olding broke the meet record and just missed breaking her state Division III record in the 1,600 meters, missing the record she set at regionals last season by less than one second. Sunni also won the 3,200 meters, was part of the winning 3,200-meter relay team, and was a surprise participant in the winning 1,600-meter relay team.
"We had a little injury last night with Amy Kremer's knee in practice, and she was in a lot of pain after the 300 hurdles," explained Heitkamp. "We knew Sunni could do it, even coming off the two mile."
Coldwater's third-place finish was due in part to victorious efforts from a couple of the younger members of the team. Freshman Karla Niekamp won both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, while sophomore Janelle Jansen secured victory in the pole vault. Coach Pohlman was extremely pleased with the entire teams effort.
"The girls placing third in this tough MAC, that was a feat itself. I hate to say third place is a victory, but when you're going up against two state-ranked teams like Minster and Versailles, a third place isn't bad at all."
Marion Local's fifth-place finish mostly resulted from the girls winning four of the sprint events. Abby Schulte won both the 100- and the 200-meter dashes, while the 400- and 800-meter relay teams also won their events.
Most of the MAC schools will move on to the Division III district meet at Minster next Thursday and Saturday. The Versailles boys and both the Coldwater boys and girls go to the Division II district meet at Milton-Union.