By Bruce Monnin
MINSTER -- Both the girls and the boys portions of the Midwest Athletic Conference track meet were expected to be tight contests, but the Versailles girls and boys each used depth and consistency to capture their respective team titles.
The Versailles girls scored 112 points to narrowly edge Minster with 101 points and Delphos St. John's with 96. Coldwater finished fourth with 65, St. Henry fifth with 55 and New Bremen sixth with 53 points.
The boys' meet was expected to be a tight contest between Versailles, New Bremen and Minster. But the Versailles boys consistently finished higher than their qualifying times, and they cruised to 129.5 points, 28.5 points better than runner-up New Bremen with 101 points and 37 points better than third place Minster (92.5 points). Coldwater finished fourth with 82, Delphos St. John's fifth with 76.5 and Parkway sixth with 53 points.
Coming into Friday's finals in the running events, it appeared on paper that Versailles and Minster would be in a tight race for the girls' crown title. Both teams stayed close through the early events, then Minster appeared to gain the upper hand when the Wildcat duo of Bernadette Burke and Brigitte Sherman placed first and second in the 1600-meter run.
The Wildcats maintained a slight advantage until the second to last event, when Kristen Schulte and Caitlin Liette placed second and third in the 3200-meter run to give the Tigers the margin they needed for the team victory. "Kristen (Schulte) and Caitlin (Liette) took the bit in their mouths and had a tremendous finish," admired Versailles coach Steve Glasscoe. "It was nice for a freshman (Schulte) to finish that strong in the MAC.
"You know what's amazing about this?" added Glasscoe. "We only won one event (Amanda Barlage's record-setting performance in the pole vault)."
Versailles' team depth showed in the five different second-place finishes and four third-place finishes the Lady Tigers earned.
Individually, Coldwater's Ashley Kanney set the only meet record on the day, as her winning time of 2:20.33 in the 800-meter run broke the old record set in 1995 by Coldwater's Karla Klosterman.
Catie Evers added a dominating win in the 400-meter dash for St. Henry, while Parkway's Marian Bevington earned big points on the night by winning the 100-meter hurdles while also placing third in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Versailles picked up a few wins on the boys' side, as its win in Tuesday's 3200-meter relay was joined by Steve Winner triumphing in the 400-meter dash and Clint Hufford prevailing in the 800-meter run.
Runner-up New Bremen used the same formula as the Versailles girls, consistently high finishes. The Cardinals' only event win was Chris Grant in Tuesday's long jump, but the team also garnered five other second-place finishes and four third-place finishes.
Individually, some of the best performances on the night came from teams not in contention for the team title. Delphos St. John's had Curt Laudick controlling the sprints, winning both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes.
Parkway hurdler Jacob Fox turned in another of the double victories, continuing his undefeated season in the 110-meter hurdles while also winning the 300-meter hurdles.
"I feel really good about it (winning both races)," related Fox. "In the 300, I have been pushing really hard to get better."
In the distance events, Coldwater runners David Wilker and Jamie Kuess dominated the action. Wilker won both the 1600 and 3200-meter runs, while Kuess finished third and second in the two races, respectively. Results like this have the duo looking ahead towards a chance to compete together at state.
"We go to Lexington for regionals and there are some really good two-milers there," commented Wilker. "But I think as long as Jamie and I put together some good practices we'll have a chance."
"It really helps having David to pace off of for the first couple of laps," added Kuess. "When he was injured I had to take the lead a couple of times, which helped me keep my own pace instead of always having to rely on David."
Most of the MAC schools will move on to the Division III district meet at Minster Thursday and Saturday. The Coldwater boys go to the Division II district meet at Elida Wednesday and Friday, while both Versailles squads move on to district competition at Milton-Union.