By Bruce Monnin
MINSTER -- Beautiful sunny weather greeted fans and athletes as they arrived at Saturday's Minster Memorial track meet, and good competition kept them interested all day long.
On the boys side, Minster built up their usual early lead in the throwing events, using wins by Derrick Gates in the shot put and a 1-2 finish from Dane Sommer and Tony Dahlinghaus in the discus.
But New Bremen came back behind a solid team effort anchored by Troy Lammers to achieve the victory with 118 points to Minster's 1011/2, thus securing their first win in this meet in recent memory.
The girl's portion saw the Minster Lady Wildcats continue their dominance of the invite. Without any individual winning more than one event, the Wildcats compiled 141 points in what the Minster coaches referred to as a "total team effort" to greatly outdistance the second-place Versailles Lady Tigers' score of 99.
It was a two-team race for the boys' title between New Bremen and Minster.
The Cardinals gained points from Troy Lammers' wins in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and Kevin Heitkamp's top finish in the pole vault. Besides their first places in the discus and shot put, the only other Wildcat win on the day was by their 1,600-meter relay during the final event.
However, New Bremen pulled away for the team title during the 3,200 run when Brooks Topp and Bradford Coyle placed second and third.
"This meet, at the midpoint of the season, is a good gauge how well you can compete," stated New Bremen coach Gary Jones. "Minster did a great job, and that made our kids work that much harder."
Individually, Parkway's Brandon Bowen matched both winning teams with top finishes in three individual events, the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the long jump. He was also a part of the third place 400 relay team, despite struggling with some mild injuries this season.
"I've had a little problem with my hip flexor and back," explained Bowen. "And our relay team lost our anchor, but I think he might be coming back next week."
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Bowen's win in the 100 was the closest race of the day, as the judges had to go to the cameras to determine that he edged out Minster's Michael McVety, who declared "I couldn't tell who won today, but I'll get him by the MAC." This could be an interesting battle to watch as the season progresses.
Marion Local placed third in the team standings behind five first place finishes. Tyler Speelman was a big contributor, winning the 800 and 1,600 runs as well as being a part of the winning 3,200 relay and the second place 1,600-meter relay.
"Right now I'm definitely way ahead of where I was last year," Speelman stated. "I think I've dropped four seconds off of my 800 time and probably about ten seconds from my 1,600 time, so I'm pretty happy."
St. Henry finished fifth in the team standings, with Jon Hemmelgarn winning the 400 dash for the Redskin boys' only event victory on the day.
On the girls' side, the Minster compiled six first place and four second place finishes, and as usual scored almost half their points in five distance events: the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 runs, and the 1,600 and 3,200 relays.
Among the Lady Wildcats with productive days was Katie Dahlinghaus who won the 800 run and was also part of the winning 3,200 and 1,600 relays and the third place 800-meter relay. Also performing well was Jenny Fausey, who turned in her personal best for the season in the 3,200 run.
"I was really happy," offered Fausey. "I didn't have a good race last week, so I just wanted to come back and show everyone what I can do."
St. Henry's Catie Evers was a big individual star on the day as she set a new school record for most points scored in a single meet. Besides helping the 800 relay to a second place finish, she also won the 100, 200 and 400 runs, leading the Redskins to a fourth place finish in the team standings.
"I'm doing a whole lot better than last year at this time," understated Evers, who did not place in either the 100 or the 200 as a freshman last year, and only placed eighth in the 400.
Versailles' Amanda Barlage set a new meet record while winning the pole vault with a height of 10-6 to help pace the second place Tigers. Another meet record was set by Alisha Anthony of third place Delphos St. John's, as she broke Trish Eiting's record in the long jump by a foot, a record that had stood at the Minster Memorial since the late 1970s.
New Bremen's Amber Niekamp broke the usual Minster/Versailles stranglehold on the distance races by winning the 1,600 run, the Cardinals lone win on their way to a sixth place team finish. Marion Local finished eighth in the team standings, failing to win any events but placing in eight of them.