By Bruce Monnin
COLDWATER -- On a cold, windy evening in Coldwater, the results of the Midwest Athletic Conference cross country meet were familiar to area fans.
In the boys' race, Coldwater took the championship for the third time in the last four years and the Cavaliers' David Wilker won the individual title for the fourth consecutive year. In the girls' race, Minster took the crown for the 12th straight year, with Wildcat sophomore Bernadette Burke halfway to equaling Wilker's mark, winning the individual title for the second year in a row.
The boys' race was highly anticipated for two reasons. David Wilker was attempting to be only the second MAC athlete to win the event all four years, and the first male, and the team competition was expected to be a close battle between Coldwater, Minster and St. Henry.
Wilker took the lead early in the race and held it throughout. He crossed the finish line over 10 seconds ahead of teammate Dusty Kuess, holding four fingers in the air as he did so.
"I wanted to win this one really bad because I think the only other person to win (the MAC) four times was Sunni Olding, and that's good company to be in," admitted Wilker, referring to the three-time state champion and current Notre Dame All-American. "I was more worried about how we were going to finish as a team, but that was in the back of my mind." Following the Coldwater duo was St. Henry's Doug Ranly and Minster's Kregg Olding. But perhaps the key was the fifth-place finisher, Coldwater's Ben Heyne. This trio at the front helped the Cavaliers to a score of 47, six points ahead of Minster and 18 ahead of St. Henry.
"One of our goals was to get three guys in front of Minster's second," stated Coldwater coach Dan Pohlman. "We were lucky enough to have been crowned MAC champions three out of the last four years, but this was the sweetest one because it was so close. Last week if you take all the other non-MAC teams out Minster would have beaten us. "
The girls' race was more anticlimactic, as the Minster girls' team won by a 20 to 57 margin over runner-up Versailles. Between the two teams, they claimed 17 of the top 21 places in the event, with Minster placing eight girls in the top 13 positions.
The race to finish third was much closer, with Coldwater managing to finish just ahead of Fort Recovery and Marion Local.
The individual event also went as expected, with Bernadette Burke repeating as champion, finishing eight seconds ahead of teammate Katie Dahlinghaus, who edged Fort Recovery's Mindy Vogel for the runner-up spot.
Though the times were a bit slow due to the inclement weather, Dahlinghaus did not seem to mind very much.
"Obviously our times were slower, but I think I run better in cold than in extreme heat," explained Dahlinghaus. "Your muscles get tight, which I like, and you don't feel pain as much."
In the junior-high races, the team titles went to the Versailles boys and the Minster girls. St. Henry's Mitchell Schulze was the top junior high boy while Minster's Averie Bornhorst easily bested the girls' field.