By Gary R. Rasberry
PIQUA -- The first day of the Division III regional track meet proved to be a successful one for Midwest Athletic Conference teams.
The local interest started with four MAC schools qualifying for state in the 3,200-meter relay and it carried all the way through to the Minster team being involved in a run-off for a spot in the 400 relay finals during preliminaries at the end of the day.
The Minster girls are in a solid spot after day one, picking up 23 points thanks to the win in the two-mile relay and 13 points in the high jump. Versailles, with the help of a third-place showing in the 3,200-meter relay, is second with 12 points.
Fort Recovery is tied with Crestview and Anna for third with 10 points while New Bremen is sixth and Marion Local ninth. Coldwater is currently 13th with three points.
On the boy's side, Parkway had two individuals qualify for the state meet in Columbus next week putting Parkway in second place so far with 15 points behind Waynesfield's 28-point effort. Minster is ninth with Marion 15th and New Bremen tied for 17th. The girls' 3,200-meter relay final had the same four teams that finished in the top four at the MAC meet two weeks ago. Minster captured the title with the only change being New Bremen, thanks to a great stretch run by Amber Niekamp, beating Versailles for second place. Marion Local came in fourth with Fort Recovery taking seventh to gain two points.
From there, the Wildcats came up big in the other contested event for the team, the high jump. Wildcat coaches had hopes of getting both Ashley Meiring and Stacey Sudhoff out of the regionals. Those hopes were realized as Meiring reached 5-5 to earn second place with Anna's Lara Gehret also getting 5-5 but had less misses. Sudhoff reached her district height of 5-2, good enough for the fourth and final spot to Columbus.
"Everything we've done so far, save for the 300 hurdles, have come through," said Minster girl's coach Kristin Heitkamp. "We're used to running against each other, so we know how we have to react because we know the quality of the other teams.
"We knew it (getting two jumpers out) was a possibility. I want to say we came in second and fourth (based on the other results from other districts). When Stacey cleared 5-2 on the first try, that was huge. She's had two good weeks at 5-2. Ashley had a real nice PR at 5-5 today. They both came through at the right time."
Another local lady getting the magic ticket for Columbus is Fort Recovery's Holly Stein, who battled Crestview's Shea Dietrich all afternoon in the shot put before taking second with a top effort of 37-1 to earn a second straight trip to the state meet. Stein has a chance to make it two events on Friday in the discus.
Dietrich set a regional meet record with a top throw of 41-6 1/2. Versailles freshman Christine Borchers placed third to qualify for state while Coldwater's Brittany Klenke placed sixth with a top effort of 33-10 3/4.
"She's been around since I've been here," said Stein, referring to the senior Dietrich. "I've always competed against her. I've been getting closer and closer."
In preliminary heats, St. Henry's Catie Evers posted the fastest time in the 400-meter run and the fifth-best in the 200 meter to qualify for Friday's finals. Evers also helped the Redskins' 800-meter relay team to a fourth-best time in the prelims to move on to Friday's final.
Parkway's Marian Bevington posted a 16.11 in the 100-meter hurdles, fastest of the qualifiers, but missed the 200 qualification by finishing out of the top four in her heat.
In the 1,600-meter relay, the top-four times came from MAC teams at New Knoxville, Coldwater, New Bremen and Versailles all advanced to the finals.
In the boys' meet, Parkway's Jason Fisher overcame gusty winds to earn a trip to Columbus with a first-place finish in the discus with another chance to go to state in the shot put ahead on Friday. Fisher's throw of 159-8 was 10 feet further than runner-up Michael Chacksfield of CHCA.
"I just tried to concentrate on throwing more towards the goal I set, which was 160 feet," said Fisher. "Just trying to battle the wind, basically. When I threw it up in the air, I tried to keep it down so the wind wouldn't catch it."
Fisher's regular foe in the MAC, Andrew Meyer, also will head to state after placing fourth in the event. Fellow Wildcat Tony Dahlinghaus was seventh.
For freshman Panther Josh Fisher, the regional was a test where he had to battle not only MAC rival Chris Grant of New Bremen, but the Waynesfield tandem of Gray Horn and Kellen Fetter in the long jump.
Grant, the MAC and district champ, unexpectedly missed out on the finals, not recording a distance, leaving Fisher with a solid chance to make the top four. In the end, the younger of the two Fisher boys placed fourth with a top effort of 20-2 to qualify for the state meet. Johnny Adams of Dixie outleaped the Waynesfield pair to capture the title.
The only other MAC rep to earn a trip to state was St. John's Paul Metzner, who placed second in the shot put to Gray Horn of Waynesfield.
In the boy's 3,200, no MAC team made it out as Marion Local was fifth and New Bremen sixth.
In the prelims, Waynesfield's Joe Horn, state champ in two events last year while at Cincinnati Christian, blistered the field in the 100 and 200 while coasting in the 400 after scratches left his heat with four, earning all an automatic bid for Friday's finals.
Parkway's Jacob Fox has a chance to make it out in the hurdle events after posting the fastest times in both the 110 and 300. New Bremen and St. Henry made it out of regionals in the 1,600 relay.
Minster had a late chance to qualify in the 400 relay after the Wildcats and Riverside posted the eighth-best time in the relays -- relays go with the top eight times rather than the first four in each heat -- with 45.31 seconds. Since there was no other way to judge a winner, a run-off was called for after the boy's 1,600 relay heats. Minster looked to have the edge through the first two handoffs and had a slight lead in the final stretch, but Riverside was able to get an edge near the finish to take the final spot.
The regional will conclude on Friday as the remaining field events start at 5 p.m. with the running finals set to take off at 6 p.m.