By Gary R. Rasberry
DEFIANCE -- Going into Saturday, the Celina girls track team knew they were in for a battle as Ottawa-Glandorf stood firmly in the way of the Runnin' Women's chance to regain the Western Buckeye League track title after a one-year hiatus.
Celina certainly did everything they needed to do to win, but unfortunately, so did the Titans.
The depth of the Titans showed in most events to lead Ottawa-Glandorf to a repeat as WBL champs at the league meet at Brown Stadium/Defiance Clinic Track in Defiance, scoring 132 points.
Celina came up with an exceptional effort to firmly place themselves as the runner-up with 105 points, 43 points ahead of third-place finishing Defiance.
For the Celina boys, the meet was a breakthrough after being down for most of the past several seasons. With scoring efforts in almost every event on Saturday, the Bulldogs finished fifth with 56 points, just 71/2 points from fourth-place Ottawa-Glandorf. Van Wert captured the league title, over Defiance after leading by just one point going into the last race. The day proved to be a challenge both physically and meteorologically. A steady rain lasted throughout the day before finally giving way to a little sunshine in the final race of the day.
"They're more mature and have more depth," said Celina head coach Dan Otten of the Titans. "In the sprints, we didn't get much help from other teams (by scoring high).
"We did what we could do. We don't have much depth. Unfortunately, in the events they were kind of good in, there was no one between us and them."
The Runnin' Women scored points -- by finishing in the top six -- in all 15 contested events on the day. Julie Snyder was in the forefront of most of the points.
Snyder posted four individual top three finishes on the day. Snyder started the day early in the field events, taking third in the high jump with a top effort of five feet. Moving to the long jump, Snyder nailed a jump of 17-5 1/2, a half-inch off the meet record, but did not try for the record as she had to get ready for the hurdles. The closest anyone came to her mark was teammate Eryn Langenkamp, who cleared 15-11 to give Celina a 1-2 showing.
As the rain began to pick up, Snyder moved to the blue track to start the 100 hurdles and face her rival Sara Morman of OG. Snyder broke out quickly and got a lead on Morman, crossing the line in 15.20 seconds, 3/10 of a second faster than Morman.
Later in the 300, the pair dueled again. This time Morman edged out Snyder for the win as Snyder came in second.
"I just had to totally focus on the hurdles," said Snyder. "I knew I had practiced the long jump enough. With the rain, I had to make sure I didn't slip. Track was just starting to get wet. I knew I had to get a really good start out if I had a chance to get Morman. I did, lucky for me."
Also coming up with a win on Saturday was Jenna Schmitmeyer, who placed in all three sprint races. Schmitmeyer the 400 by edging OG star Shelly Bellman, took third in the 200 and fifth in the 100.
More points came in the distances. Lindsay Schmitmeyer made the podium with a strong third-place showing in the 800. Amanda Smith picked up a big point in the 1,600 run and Jenn Blacketer took fifth in the 3,200 with teammate Heather Petrie missing out on a point by taking seventh.
All three Celina relays took second on the day, twice with OG winning.
One place where some key points came in were in the throwing events. A year after not scoring in either event, Celina scored. Allison Stammen took fifth in the shot put in sixth in the discus. Teammate Jen Brackman added a fifth-place showing in the discus.
"We had some great stuff," said Otten. "Our discus girls both places, when we didn't score last year. We can go on and on about stuff that happened. It wasn't anything we did bad."
"Our girls did awesome," said Snyder after the end of her busy day. "OG was just a little better, I guess."
The Celina boys, who the past several years had trouble getting points, came up one of its best showings in several years, bettering last year's point total by 22 points.
Erik Chapin brought home the lone boys title by winning the long jump. Chapin was the only competitor on the day to jump 20 feet or better with a winning mark of 20-6 1/2. Chapin also finished fourth in the high jump and fifth in the 110 hurdles.
"His best (jump) until last week was 18-4," Otten said of Chapin's long jump. "He went two feet, two inches better. He put together his three best jumps one after another. He didn't jump his last three because he was high jumping.
More points came from some great performances. Jeremy Buening, who started throwing this season, brought home a fourth-place showing in the discus. Grant Riesen, looking to repeat as 800 champ, went from sixth to second on the final lap but could not catch Reed Wolverton of Van Wert down the stretch, earning a hard-fought second.
Kelly Mallory, one of the best swimmers in Celina history, showed he could dash on terra firma as well, taking third in the 400 to go with a sixth in the 200. Shawn Caruso finished fourth in the 300 hurdles.
The biggest showing came from the Celina relays. After taking second in the 3,200 relay on Thursday, The Bulldogs scored in all three relays on Saturday, taking fifth in the 400 relay, sixth in the 800 relay and capping off the day with an impressive third in the 1,600 relay.
"The boys did great," said Otten. "We haven't had as good a boys' results in about seven years. Everybody scored. Every kid we brought, we told them we didn't bring them unless they could score. We didn't have any bad efforts."
St. Marys suffered through a tough day. The boys placed ninth overall with just five points while the girls finished seventh with 23 points. The long Roughrider winner on Saturday was Amy Buck, who took the high jump with a top effort of 5-1. St. Marys' best boys showings came in the shot put, when Aaron Masonbrink and Pete Hogshead took fifth and sixth respectively.
The road to the state finals at Columbus begin this week. Celina will travel to Tiffin Columbian on Wednesday and Friday for the Division I district meet. St. Marys will head south to Milton-Union for the Division II district.