WESTERVILLE — No matter where they placed in the Division III state track meet this weekend — or even if they placed — area athletes were excited to simply be competing after last season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though by the end of Saturday, Minster’s boys athletes were a little more excited than most.
Minster accrued enough points in a couple of late races to edge McDonald for the Div. III boys team state title to cap off the two-day meet at Westerville North High School. It’s the first state title in program history and the 38th team championship in school history.
McDonald held a four-point lead heading into the final event: the 4×400 relay. The Wildcats finished first in the 4×400 preliminary race on Friday and knew they’d have a good chance to win the title over McDonald, which also had a group qualify to compete in the relay.
Minster led almost the entire relay and finished first in 3:22.12, about a half-second ahead of second-place Archbold. McDonald finished fifth in 3:27.
Minster earned 10 points toward team standings by finishing first in the relay while McDonald earn four by finishing fifth. The six-point swing lifted the Wildcats to first place with 41 points while McDonald finished second with 39. No other area school finished in the top 25.
“Like I’ve said before, these guys always want to do better the next time they run than they did the time before,” Minster coach Larry Topp, who has led the program for 33 years, said. “I didn’t know if they could improve on what they did yesterday (preliminaries). Yesterday was a pretty good day. Then, they stepped it up two notches today. We needed every bit of it today for it to come down to the 4-by-4.”
It was the first season for Minster senior Bryan Falk, who anchored the relay. He finished second in the 400-meter dash in 49.31 and fourth in the 100 dash in 11.31.
“We were calculating stuff (coming into Saturday’s finals), and we had us winning by one,” Falk said. “… It worked out. I couldn’t have ever thought of this. It’s just now sinking in. It’s crazy. Great to get Coach Topp his first title.”
Brady Hoelscher, Nathan Droesch and Joseph Slonkosy teamed with Falk for the relay. The group finished first in Friday’s preliminary race in 3:25.89 and improved by over three seconds on Saturday.
“I was just going for the win, because I didn’t know where McDonald was,” Falk said. “I felt the guy come up on me, and I decided to kick it in.”
McDonald amassed a big early lead, as most of the events Minster earned points in occurred late in the meet.
Other big points earners for Minster included Alex Albers, who finished finished third in the 800 run in 1:56 and finished fifth in the 1,600 run in 4:22. Slonkosky finished fourth in the 300 hurdles in 30.98 after finishing eighth in Friday’s preliminary to capture the final qualifying spot.
The 4×800 relay of Hoelscher, Josh Niekamp, Mathew Droesch and Albers finished sixth in 8:05.
The team title was also the first earned by a Midwest Athletic Conference boys track program. Nineteen state titles have been won by MAC girls track programs, including 13 by Minster, which last won in 2018. MAC sports team have claimed 141 state championships.
Finals in most events were held on Saturday at Westerville North, though some were held on Friday, along with all preliminary races.
The state championship meets for all divisions usually take place at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Stadium but were moved to different Columbus-area high schools this year due to the university’s school-year long ban on allowing outside organizations to rent its facilities due to COVID-19. Each division took place at a different high school.
Franklin wins 200 dash, helps Lehman Catholic girls finish 5th
Lehman Catholic’s girls squad capped off a record season by finishing fifth in Div. III on Saturday. Kiersten Franklin was a big reason why.
Franklin, a junior who transferred from Troy after last school year, finished first in the 200-meter dash to claim an individual state title. She also earned a podium spot in the 100 dash and as a part of the 4×100 and 4×200 relay.
She finished second in the 200 dash in Friday’s preliminary race in 25.61 but on Saturday started strong off the blocks and raced to a 25.42 finish.
“I thought I was going to get second but when I came off the blocks, I knew I had it,” Franklin said. “… I had a better start. I knew I had to run faster to get first place.”
The Cavaliers, which set several records in the Northwest Central Conference meet last month, finished fifth with 29 points, 23 behind champion West Liberty-Salem. It was the highest finish of any area girls squad.
Franklin earned a spot on the podium as a part of two relays at Troy as a freshman. She said it was a long journey to return to the podium on Saturday, with COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of last season and adjusting to Lehman after transferring.
“It was kind of difficult, but once they put me in, I think I got the hang of it,” Franklin said. “… It was kind of hard leaving the other school that I went to, but I know it was worth coming here. God put me here for a reason, so I thank God for that.”
Franklin finished fifth in the 100 dash in 12.60, edging out senior teammate Lindsey Magoteaux, who was sixth in 12.62.
“I’ll definitely win the 100 next year,” Franklin said. “I just had a bad start this time.”
Franklin was inserted in Lehman’s 4×100 and 4×200 relays in place of sophomore Ella Black, who ran in Friday’s preliminary race. Franklin teamed with Ella Monnin, Katie McFarland and Magoteaux in the 4×100 to finish second in 49.12.
Franklin ran second and helped give the Cavaliers an early lead, but Margaretta anchor Kenna Stimmel made up the difference and helped her group finish first in 48.96.
“We ran a PR and I am pretty sure we broke the school record with that, which we’re surprised about, but I just think we had higher expectations than what we landed with,” McFarland said.
The same group finished fifth in the 4×200 relay in 1:45.10.
The 4×100 relay was the last event for Magoteaux, who also was a part of a 400 relay that earned a podium finish in the D-III state meet as a freshman. She earned six podium finishes in her career.
“It was kind of hard because I think we were expecting to win the 4×1, and coming in second, we were kind of crushed a little bit,” Magoteaux said. “I feel like I’m proud of what we all did this year, so I’m proud of the outcome overall.”
Anna’s Reiss, Schmidt earn 2nd place finishes
Anna freshman London Reiss had a big day and picked up some confidence for next year.
Reiss finished fifth in the girls 100-meter hurdles in 15.41 after coming in fourth in 14.84 in Friday’s preliminary race. But she greatly improved in the 300 hurdles and finished second in 44.33 after finishing seventh in 44.94 in Friday’s preliminary race.
She also teamed with Camryn Wilson, Jenna Wolters and Kaitlyn Harris in the 4×200 relay for a seventh-place finish in 1:46.20.
“I think I did overall pretty well as a freshman. It’s really exciting and I’m excited to celebrate the rest of today,” Reiss said. “… I’m really just trying to take it day-by-day and year-by-year. I hope to come back these next three years and do better, but right now, I’m just going to stay in the moment and keep working on myself to get better.”
In addition to qualifying for state in three events, Reiss and finished first in four events in the Shelby County Athletic League meet last month.
“This was really unexpected,” Reiss said. “At the beginning of the year, I was just hoping to do my best and have fun with my teammates, especially coming in as a freshman and not running last year because of COVID,” Reiss said. “… To be here is such a blessing and super unexpected, but I’m super proud and happy I could support my team.”
Anna junior Hayden Schmidt was the only other Anna athlete to earn a podium finish. Schmidt, a junior, finished second in the boys 3,200 run in 9:30. He ran about fourth during the first few laps but pulled ahead to second in the last two.
Fort Loramie’s Raterman ties for 3rd in pole vault
Fort Loramie senior Hannah Raterman earned the highest podium finish of any Fort Loramie athlete by tying for third in girls pole vault.
Raterman tied for third by clearing 11-0 on her first try, as did Orville’s Ainsley Hamsher. Both missed three tries at 11-4.
Raterman also cleared 9-0, 10-0 and 10-6 on her first try. She tied a personal record by clearing 11-0.
“Sometimes when I’ve had really good meets I’ve hit something on the first attempt, but never a PR on my first attempt,” Raterman said. “I must have just had a really good day. Good weather, and a lot of adrenaline. Plus I had a lot of fans, a lot of my family and friends being really loud cheering me on.”
Raterman said she was happy to be able to compete as a senior after last year was wiped out due to COVID-19.
“It was unfortunate for everyone,” Raterman said. “For me, I could have been vaulting this high last year and had a year to improve, but you’ve got to get what you’ve got to get. I think with not being able to practice last year, I did pretty well. I think it’s still a good ending.”
Riley Heitkamp finished eighth in pole vault by clearing 10-6 on her second try.
In Friday finals, the 4×800 relay of Kaitlyn Grillot, Corynn Heitkamp, Olivia Borchers and Claire Rethman finished fourth in 9:35.
Colten Gasson finished sixth in the boys 1,600 run in 4:22.64. Gavin Kemper finished fourth in pole vault on Friday by clearing 13-10 on his second try.
Sophomore Jessica Albers competed in four seated finals in the Div. I state meet held Saturday at Hilliard Darby High School. She finished fourth in the girls 400 dash, fourth in the 800, fourth in shot put and third in the 100 dash.
2 Minster girls athletes earn podium spots in 800 run
Several Minster girls earned podium finishes on Saturday, including two in the 800 run.
Taylor Roth finished third in the 800 in 2:17.45 while Margaret Hemmelgarn finished seventh in 2:19.
The 4×400 relay of Cameo Cedarleaf, Hemmelgarn, Ava Grieshop and Roth finished eighth in 4:10.
In Friday finals, the girls 4×800 relay of Roth, Hemmelgarn, Mason Pohl and Ella Boate finished third in 9:23.
Johnson places for Botkins
After six Botkins athletes qualified for state, junior Aleah Johnson was the only athlete from the school to earn a podium finish.
Johnson finished second in girls discus finals on Friday with a throw of 132-9, about 12 inches short of the first-place throw.
2 Versailles athletes earn podium spots in D-II
Two Versailles athletes earned podium spots in the Div. II state meet, which took place Friday and Saturday at Pickerington North High School.
Taran Tyo finished fourth in boys discus with a throw of 162-8 and finished fifth in shot put with a throw of 54-4.25.
Lexi Magoto was second in the girls 400-meter dash in 56.65.
AIM Media Midwest contributing writer Mark Altstaetter contributed to this report.