By Gary R. Rasberry
It will only feel like the entire Midwest Athletic Conference will be in Columbus for the State Track and Field Championships this weekend.
A total of 77 athletes from the MAC will compete for a chance at individual titles and help go for team titles at the Jesse Owens track on the campus of the Ohio State University.
Columbus gets the honor of hosting the track meet for the first time since 1998, when Ohio Stadium held the finals before moving to Dayton for four years after the Owens track around Ohio Stadium was removed for rennovations.
Counting the two representatives each from Celina and St. Marys, there are a total of 81 area competitors at the state level.
Many different scenarios will be going on during the state meet, especially in Divisions II and III as local teams look to bring back a lot of success. For fans going up to Columbus this weekend for the meet, here are some things to look out for:
´ More seating will be added to the Owens facilty for the state track meet, which brought nearly 10,000 in the four years the meet was held at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
There is no truth, though, that Sunni Olding prompted the extra seats. Minster senior Olding has been the talk of the state meet since her first races as a freshman.
Now participating in her final state meet, the Notre Dame-bound Olding, known for her long blond braids -- and the occasional sunglasses -- will look to go out with a bang.
In her first three years, Olding won or ran legs of winning races six times and came in second on the other three occasions. This year, Olding is looking for a fourth straight 1,600 title, (Continued from page 1B)
joining former Wildcat great Leslie Moorman among the other four-time winners.
This year, Olding will run in four races rather than the three she has run in the past. Olding filled in for Amy Kremer in the 1,600 relay at the MAC meet and did so well with her time in her 400-meter portion that she was elevated to the team.
Olding will not have much time for rest since the 3,200, which she is looking for a second straight title, and the 1,600 relay are consecutive with a 15-minute break in between the end of her race and the start of the relay.
Olding will likely get a huge ovation during her last solo race. If all things go well for the Wildcats, Olding will graduate having won three individual state cross country titles, 10 individual state track titles, four team track titles, two team cross country team titles and a state basketball title
´ -- A win for the Minster girls in the Division III team standings not only means a fourth straight title for the Wildcats but also will mark a 12th team title in the 30 years the OHSAA has sponsored a state track meet for the ladies.
The win puts the Wildcats in sole possesion of second in all-time team titles. Only Cleveland Heights Beaumont has more with 14 titles.
´ -- In her first two seasons of track, Marion Local's Abby Schulte has been to state and went to the podium last year.
This year, the Flyer junior is in three events, with the 100 dash being her best shot for the top of the podium. Schulte's regional effort of 12.32 is just two-hundreths of a second off the top mark of 12.30 held by Bridgeport's Brittany Hocker.
Schulte is also in the running for the 200 and is part of the 400 relay.
´ -- With over 60 team titles being owned by MAC teams, New Bremen has been one of the few member schools not to have won a state team title -- New Knoxville being the other.
After a huge effort to win the regional title, the Cardinal boys teams are among the favorites to contend for a state team title.
Coach Gary Jones has eight men competiting at state with two competing in the shot put giving the Cardinals a chance for big points.
The key to the success of the Cardinals is junior Troy Lammers, who won both the 110 and 300 hurdles at the Piqua regional and is a favorite to win at least one of the races at Columbus.
Lammers had the best regional time of the 16 hurdlers that qualified to Columbus in each event.
Also looking to add points to the Cardinals cause is Kevin Heitkamp, who has one of the better marks from regional in the pole vault.
´ -- Marion and Minster had been dueling for points throughout their meetings this season. Both teams will have large contingents with Marion bringing nine guys and Minster bringing 11.
The Flyers use a mix of distance and speed to compete at the state meet. The 3,200 relay team has been one of the most consistent teams this season and has the second best time in the division with a 8:09.08.
While distance has been a constant, the sprint relays made it to state as the 800 and 400 relay teams of Greg Geire, Kyle Homan, Brian Wellman and Ryan Stucke will have the chance to gain some big points.
Minster has all four relays qualified for state. Coach Larry Topp, who, coincidently is a Marion grad, has one of his strongest groups going to Columbus. If things all go well, the Lady Wildcats will have to share some trophy space coming back to Minster.
´ -- They did it in football and almost did it in basketball. why not on the track?
The athletic year for Versailles has been very successful for both boys and girls. After the football team went unbeaten and the boys basketball team won 27 in a row before losing in the state finals to St. Henry, the boys track team looks to contend for the Division II state title.
And also lurking in the mix is a familar foe for the Tigers in the Coldwater Cavaliers.
The orange and black team color schemes are the only thing Versailles and Coldwater share as the schools have battled for the top during several seasons this year.
At the Dayton regional, Versailles came in first and with Coldwater coming in a close third.
Both teams have some of the best distance runners in the area heading to state. Coldwater will send Marty Schoenherr to his final state meet in the 3,200 relay, 1,600 open and 800 open while freshman David Wilker will be a part in the 3,200 relay as well as the 3,200 open.
Ben Pax finally made it state in the pole vault after not making it out of districts last season. Pax's 14-6 top effort is third best in Division II and is just six inches away from the top mark of 15 feet held by Justin Holliday of Orrville
Tyler Barga, who has had to fight off nagging injuries since last year's regional meet, qualified in the 1,600, beating Schoenherr, and the 3,200 relay. Barga's regional time of 4:22.81 is the fastest time of all the state qualifiers and the 3,200 relay posted the best time of the 16 teams making it to state.
The Tigers will also go with big efforts from Mike Dammeyer in the 800 and Pete Bohman in the 400. Dammeyer may be in for a duel with Firelands' John Sheppard, who holds the quickest time in the 800 after regionals. Jeff Hileman ranks in the middle of the pack in the 110 hurdles according to regional times.
´ -- The Parkway track teams have been overshadowed by the other teams in the MAC. Numbers, as in the small numbers of participants over the past several years, meant that the points in the team standings might not be that high.
The Parkway boys this season has some talent, sending four men to the state meet.
The key memer for the Panthers is junior Brandon Bowen, who shined at the MAC meet and has been impressive in the postseason. Bowen will run a leg of the 400 relay at Columbus and compete in the long jump.
´ -- Kyle Vossler, the lone male representative for St. Marys, will compete in the 110 and 300 hurdles.
Vossler has been dominant at the WBL level and has stayed strong with wins in the 300 at district and regional level and seconds in the 110, both coming against Versailles' Hileman.