By Bruce Monnin
COLUMBUS -- With none of the area boys track teams in contention for a team title at the state meet in Columbus on Saturday, the focus of the meet was on performances by individuals and relay teams. Only one local individual won a championship, but many others achieved high placings in their own events.
The Cardinals were the highest-placing area boys team, finishing 11th in the standings with 17.5 points. First in action for the Cardinals was senior Troy Lammers, who finished fifth in the 100-meter hurdles, an event in which he finished third last year. Next up was Jason Dammeyer, who finished 13th in the field during the 1600-meter run.
New Bremen has not been known as a great track town through the years, but their recent success has led them to having one of the larger contingents of fans at the state meet. And the event those fans were all awaiting arrived when Lammers attempted to defend his title from last year's meet in the 300-meter hurdles. Throughout the season, Lammers had learned there were challenges as a result of his success.
"There's pressure (being a defending state champion)," revealed Lammers. "All year, everyone is out to beat you."
Lammers started the final race with a little trouble on the second hurdle.
"I stumbled a little bit," admitted Lammers. "But then I just kicked it into gear."
Lammers quickly recovered, then took the lead as he came out of the final corner.
"Once I hit the straightaway I thought, 'I better get going now.'"
With three hurdles to go, Lammers had a clear lead.
"I didn't know where he (the second-place runner) was, so I just concentrated on the finish line and getting over that last hurdle."
As he crossed the finish line, Lammers threw his arms in the air to celebrate and the New Bremen fans roared their approval.
"My goal was accomplished, for myself, family, community and school," commented Lammers on defending the title. "It was something I can remember for the rest of my life."
The Flyers were not far behind New Bremen, finishing 13th in the standings with 15 points. Lee Schwieterman started off the scoring on the day by placing in a three way tie for seventh-place in the high jump with a leap of 6-0. Even though this was four inches lower than the height he had cleared at regionals, he was not too disappointed since others seem to be experiencing similar results. "I'm a little bit disappointed, not much," explained Schwieterman about the lower height than regionals. "(It's) just the state meet, with so many more fans."
Ryan Winner then competed in the 1600 run, finishing 14th, as he faded late after running with the leaders early in the race.
The finally Flyer participant was Tyler Speelman in the 1600 meter run. Tyler finished third with a time of 1:57.66. "That was my best time ever," explained a happy Speelman. "I got to the 100 meter mark and told myself that this is the last race I'll probably ever run in my entire life so I gave it all I had. I had to get around three guys on the last turn."
Of note was that that winner of this race, Tom Andriko of Warren Lordstown, was the anchor of the relay team that passed Tyler during the 3200 meter relay of Friday. Andriko set a new state meet record in the 800 meter race. "I guess I can't be too disappointed that I was outrun by a state record holder," marveled Speelman.
The Panthers finished one of their more successful state meets in recent history in 20th place in the team standings with 11 points. The day started when Josh Huber competed in the discus throw, finishing 15th best in the state.
Then came the 400 meter relay race, in which the Panthers finished fourth with a time of 43.91. Even though they appeared to run a very smooth race with faultless handoffs and only finished 0.3 seconds behind the champions, all four members of the team immediately expressed that they had hoped for a better time.
Brandon Bowen started the race and brought the baton cleanly to Travis Vian. Travis expressed that the race was short enough that the heat did not bother him commented on his performance, "I think I might have done a little better. I was trying not to hold anything back."
Another good handoff brought the baton to Jacob Fox who had even higher expectations for the day. "I think I could have done a lot better," said Fox, even though he kept his team near the front of the pack. The anchor leg was run by Dallas Agner who needed to both hold off the teams behind him while striving for the front. Dallas gave it all trying to catch the leaders, "I was running as hard as I could trying to catch them."
A few events later, Brandon Bowen also competed in the 200 meter dash, where he finished in eighth place. "I was kind of disappointed in that (the 200 race)," admitted Bowen. When asked if his 200 effort suffered from running the relay race earlier, Brandon admitted, "Yeah, a little bit. It wears you out, (being in) the hot sun all day."
The Wildcats started the day with Dane Sommer throwing in the discus. Perhaps noticing that he would need an extraordinary effort to crack the top eight places, Dane faulted on all three throws to finish out of the standings.
Then, the surprise from preliminaries, Michael McVety, competed in the 100 meter dash. Once again he exploded from the blocks and appeared to have the early lead. "I could get them all in the 50 (meter dash)," proclaimed McVety.
Unfortunately for Michael the OHSAA does not currently sanction the 50 meter dash as an official event and he was competing in a 100 meter long race. Other sprinters soon caught and passed Michael though he still finished an impressive fifth place. "From 50 meters on, I was like, 'What the heck?'," admired McVety. "They just came out of nowhere."
The first Redskin to compete was Steve Dailey, also in the discus. And like his MAC counterparts, he also did not make the podium, though he finished higher than them in 12th place with a toss of 145-06.
The Redskins did not have another competitor until the final event of the day, the 1600 meter relay. The Redskins' regional time did not bode well for their chance to place at the state meet, but they qualified on Friday and put in another excellent effort in the finals Saturday, finishing fifth overall.
Matt Thobe started the team off, ending his leg in the middle of the pack. "I thought I ran pretty decent," said Thobe. "We finished fifth and that's pretty good at state. There are so many teams out there that could have made it and not us."
Jon Hemmelgarn took the second leg and vaulted his team into second place. "(It is) very satisfying that we went from running a 3:40 at the beginning of the year to running 3:26 in Columbus a few months later," confirmed Hemmelgarn. "It was a beautiful day, and this tops off a great weekend in Columbus (though he seemed to be referring to the previous night's supper at Applebees as much as the team's performance). It was quite an honor to be running here. I was geared up and waiting to go for four hours."
Chris Hoying took the baton just barely ahead of several teams. A few passed him but he managed to stay ahead of several other teams. "All I have to do is just try to hold us up there (in the standings)," explained Hoying. "That's my main job."
Jared Stammen ran the somewhat anticlimactic final leg. With no teams either close ahead or behind him, Stammen ddi not have a stressful run. "I didn't have anyone close in front of me, so I just had to maintain (our position)."
Delphos St. Johns
The Blue Jays started the day by finishing 8th in the 800 meter relay, a race they apparently took easy to save energy for the upcoming 400 meter relay. In the 400 meter relay, they finished fifth, finishing right behind the boys from Parkway.
Dustan Kruse was the sole Ranger participant at the meet Saturday. He finished 15th in the high jump after clearing a height of 5-10.