By Bruce Monnin
MINSTER -- For the second year in a row at the Minster Memorial, the weather was beautiful for this meeting historically known for less than ideal conditions.
And for the second year in a row, the same teams finished in the top two for both the boys and girls portions of the meet, but the final order was different as the Minster boys and the Versailles girls were crowned champions after second-place finishes last year.
On the boy's side, Minster built up its usual early lead in the throwing events, using wins by Andrew Meyer in the shot put and Tony Dahlinghaus in the discus. New Bremen stayed close with a solid team performance when it scored in every running event, but ultimately fell short with 93 points to Minster's winning score of 109.5.
The girls portion saw the Versailles Lady Tigers win only one event, Amanda Barlage in the pole vault, yet still score consistently enough to hold off the Minster Lady Wildcats by a seven-point margin to win the invite. The Delphos St. John's girls claimed third place by winning five events, while St. Henry's Catie Evers set the standard on the day by winning three individual events.
The Minster boys continued their undefeated season using a formula that has become standard for them in recent years. The Wildcats scored 29 quick points in the two throwing events, with Andrew Meyer and Jarred Seaver finishing first and sixth in the shot put while Tony Dahlinghaus and Meyer finished first and third in the discus.
Minster didn't win another event, but used its overall team depth to remain ahead of the challengers for the remainder of the meet.
"We won all of our previous meets, so that was our goal. That's what we came here wanting to do, so we did it," stated Meyer.
Meyer wasn't one of the top two throwers on the team last year, but this year he's taking advantage of his opportunities.
"I didn't throw my best (in the shot), but you can't do better than first place, so I helped the team out," added Meyer. "This offseason I worked really hard with my dad (former Marion Local football and track coach Ken Meyer) and coach (Larry) Topp also works really hard with me."
Joby Stechschulte also set personal records in all four events he ran for the Wildcats.
New Bremen received a win from Chris Grant in the long jump and from Jason Dammeyer in the 1,600-meter run. But perhaps their best performance on the day came from the Cardinals' 800-meter relay team, who set a new meet record and surprised their coach Gary Jones, who described their performance as "out of the blue."
Individually, Parkway's Jacob Fox scored a satisfying victory in the 110-meter hurdles, an event in which he competed in at the state track meet last year.
"Oh yeah, I was real happy with it," admitted Fox. "Mainly I was afraid of Haggard (Delphos St. John's) and Bergman (New Bremen). They were both running pretty fast and I was worried about them."
He was also a part of the third place 400-meter relay team, which ran a better time than last year's team that finished fourth at the state track meet.
"I think we can get back to state, though not having Brandon Bowen (who graduated last year) is definitely a drawback," stated Fox. "But if we can get out times down to the mid to low 45s I think we might make it."
Versailles came in just behind the two Auglaize County squads to finish third. Clint Hufford garnered a victory in the 800-meter run while Tiger teams swept the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays.
St. Henry finished fourth in the team standings, with Matt Thobe winning the 400-meter dash for the Redskin boys' only event victory on the day. MAC schools Delphos St. John's and Marion Local finished seventh and eighth respectively in the 14-team field.
On the girls' side, the Versailles Lady Tigers only received one first-place finish from Amanda Barlage in the pole vault (setting a new meet record at 11 feet). However, the Tigers showed incredible team depth by placing two girls in the points in six different events.
The Minster Lady Wildcats countered by scoring 62 of their 91 points in five distance events. Leading the way was freshman Bernadette Burke, the second-place finisher at the state cross country meet last fall. Burke set personal records in winning the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, and also during her legs of the winning 3,200-meter relay and the second place 1,600-meter relay.
"After cross country I took about a month off," offered Burke when asked if she went straight from cross country to track.
It seemed to be a good decision as she was in excellent form.
"Today was a good day," she understated. "I set a lot of personal records (PR's)."
St. Henry's Catie Evers was the big individual star on the day as she defended last year's wins in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, helping her team to a fifth-place finish. The Redskins have a nice sprinting complement to Evers with freshman teammate Carmen Moorman, who finished third in the 200- and second in the 400-meter dash.
"She pushes me at practice a lot," admitted Evers.
Moorman noted she's learning a lot from her teammate, specifically "Strides, techniques and attitude, both mentally and physically," Moorman stated.
Moorman admits the obvious fact she has learned about Evers is that "You just can't catch her."
The Delphos St. John's girls grabbed five event wins to finish in third place. New Bremen finished fourth, with its lone win coming in the last event of the day, a dominating three-second win in the 1,600-meter relay.
Marion Local finished sixth in the team standings, failing to win any events but placing in 10 of them. Parkway finished ninth out of the 14 teams, with Panther freshman Marian Bevington scoring a first-place victory in the long jump.