By Bruce Monnin
MINSTER -- Midwest Athletic Conference teams faired extremely well in the first day in the Minster Division III district track meet on Thursday. MAC teams occupied the top five places on the boys' side, and six of the top eight spots on the girls' half of the ledger.
The Minster boys used their strength in field events to take the first-day lead in their portion of the meet with 47 points, followed New Bremen with 37, St. John's with 27, Marion Local with 19 and St. Henry with 17 points.
Minster advanced its 3,200-meter relay and four individuals to regional action next week in Piqua. Dane Sommer finished second in the discus, Justin Meiring third in the long jump, A.J. Clune fourth in the pole vault, and Derrick Gates claimed first place in the shot put.
"That was my best throw by over three feet," commented Gates. "Last week at the MAC I threw horrible and I knew I had to come back and prove to myself that I could do better."
The Cardinals advanced their 3,200-meter relay and three individuals to regionals, including both Jeff Thobe and Marcus Overman in the shot put. They also benefited from Kevin Heitkamp taking first place in the pole vault despite a harrowing start to the event when he went wide to the left in warm-ups. "The mat wasn't where it was supposed to be," explained Heitkamp. "I hit my head on the concrete and my back on a steel bar. I had a pretty bad headache the whole time."
Marion Local also garnered a win when its 3,200-meter relay team won the event. Others from local schools to advance to regionals included Parkway's Brandon Bowen, who was fourth in the long jump, and the St. Henry duo of Steve Sutter (third in the shot put) and Steve Dailey (fourth in the discus).
The Minster girls also rode their field events to the first-day lead with 37 points. New Bremen was not far behind in third with 30 points, while St. Henry was sixth with 14.5, Fort Recovery seventh with 14 and Marion Local in eighth with 11 1/2 points.
The Lady Wildcats gained most of their points in two events. Amy Kremer and Stacey Sudhoff combined for a 1-2 finish in the high jump, while the 3,200-meter relay team of Brigitte Sherman, Kristen Shenk, Joanna Gruber and Sunni Olding dominated the rest of the field, winning by over 30 seconds over second-place Marion Local, third-place New Bremen and fourth-place St. Henry.
Anna Schlater also advanced for New Bremen, placing second in both the discus the shot put. Liz Schenlle will be joining Schlater and the relay team at regionals thanks to a third-place finish in the high jump.
The only other area regional qualifier was Fort Recovery's Holly Stein, who finished fourth in the shot put.
One of the happiest coaching staffs Thursday was from St. Henry. The meet started with the girls 3,200-meter relay qualifying in fourth place and the pleasing performances continued.
"We were pretty happy with everyone's performance," stated St. Henry coach Mike Eyink. "We had a rough meet last week at the MAC. We had a lot of great surprises. The 3200 girls did well, Dailey made it to regionals in the discus, and Sutter in the shot put beat his PR by almost two feet. This was a good day for St. Henry track."
Many more opportunities will exist on Saturday for area athletes to qualify for next Wednesday's regional meet in Piqua. On the boys' side, Minster, New Bremen and Marion Local will each have 16 individuals and teams competing. St. Henry will have 10 opportunities to advance, Parkway seven and Fort Recovery six.
The same trio of teams will have the most opportunities in the girls' meet. Minster will have 17 teams and/or individuals in action, while Marion Local and New Bremen will each have 16. The St. Henry girls have 13 chances, while Fort Recovery has four and Parkway one.