COLUMBUS — Minster junior relay runner Paul Dues stood just outside the wrought-iron gate at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium when a fan wearing a shirt from another part of the Ohio slapped the junior on the back, congratulated him and told Dues he had run the 1600 meter relay race for Minster years ago.
No 1600 meter relay team, no matter how far back in Minster’s storied track history, can say it ran the race faster than the time the Wildcat quartet of senior Troy Kauffman, junior Paul Dues, senior Alan Tebbe and senior Korey Schutlz did to wrap up the Division III state track and field championships on Saturday.
Bringing back three of the four runners from last year’s state champion in the event that closed out the day in the DIII championships, Minster had hoped to make it a three-peat. That seemed a likely outcome when Paul Dues surged ahead during the second leg and Alan Tebbe kept Minster’s lead from a surging Tyler Gittins of Columbus Academy. Minster’s Schultz ran a great time on the fourth lap, but he couldn’t hold off a Columbus Academy’s John Lint, who pushed his quartet to a sub-3:20 for the title.
Minster couldn’t have run the race much better. The Wildcats set a new school record with a 3:20.09 time., something that had all four Wildcats high-fiving after the race.
“We’re not mad about it,” Minster junior Paul Dues said. “We all ran great times. We honestly would’ve liked to win, but Columbus Academy ran a great race. It was a fun race, and I’m proud of the guys I ran with. Winning it a third straight year would’ve been great, but we set the school record by almost a second. That’s almost equal to winning it. That record will be up there a while.”
Along with the new school record, the points pushed the Wildcats into fourth-place in the final boys standings with 33 points, behind state champion Columbus Academy (49 points), second-place Lima Central Catholic (43 points) and third-place Warren JFK (41 points).
The Minster girls 1600 meter relay team of junior Hannah Barga, freshman Julia Slonkosky, senior Natalie Fausey and junior Olivia Enneking finished second in the event for the second straight season. The Wildcats had a lead until the final lap of the race before Versailles pulled ahead in the final lap.
“I tried to hold her off as long as I could and it came down to that last 50 meters like it usually does,” Enneking said. “I gave it all I had. We really wanted to win, but it’s great to just be here and to finish second is more than we could ask for.”
Minster had a 3:59.69 time. It meant the Wildcat girls finished 16th as a team in the final Division III standings with 13 points.
Minster put Hannah Barga into the relay line-up when she didn’t reach an event at state after getting to the regional in four different events, Barga was ready to help the team in any way she could.
“Jessie (Magoto) asked me if I could run the 400 and I told her, ‘If you put me on a state track, I might be able to,’” Barga said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I did was come out here and try to run as fast as I can and see what happened. That was basically my mentality.”
The Minster boys 800 meter relay team of Kauffman, Eli Wolf, Dues and Schultz set a new school record and took third earlier in the day with a 1:29.81 time.
“This is a big accomplishment because this beats the record of some of the fastest guys ever at Minster, Sam Phlipot and those guys,” Minster’s Troy Kauffman said. “Setting this record means you don’t need a superstar. You need four above-average guys and can go a long way.”
Minster finished behind state champion Lima Central Catholic, which set a new Division III state meet record with a 1:28.04 time. Minster raced the LCC quartet of underclassmen in the district, regional and state meet.
“We knew if we could run with those guys, we were going to have a really good shot,” Kauffman said.
Warren JFK took second and led off with the 100-meter dash champion.
Kauffman had Carl Zellow on the lane inside him to start the race.
“I had the 100 champ right on my back to start and at first I didn’t know what was going on,” Kauffman said. “I said to myself, ‘These guys are flying right now.’ We knew it was going to be a tough race. That’s the first time anyone has caught me on that first lap. Usually I’m the one going out there and catching someone. It was really uncomfortable for me.”
But Kauffman held his own and put Minster in a good position for the handoff to Eli Wolf, a first handoff that had given Minster some problems the past few weeks.
“We adjusted our steps and practiced it before our meet,” Minster’s Eli Wolf said. “We weren’t happy with our handoff in the prelims so we made a good adjustment to fix it.”
Minster junior Dominic Slonkosky passed a handful of runners on the final lap of the boys 1600 meter run to take fifth place with a 4:20.95 time.
Minster senior Korey Schultz, who ran three races on Saturday, took fifth in the boys 400 meter dash with a 49.75-second time.
Wildcat junior Olivia Enneking finished on the podium in the girls 300 meter hurdles with an eighth-place finish and 46.74-second time.
Enneking said she didn’t expect to make the finals coming into the weekend, but was pleased to get to the podium. “Anything can happen once you get this far,” Enneking said.
Minster freshman Julia Slonkosky took 12th in the girls 800 meter run final with a 2:20.49 time.
Wildcat freshman Kaci Bornhorst finished 12th in the girls 3200 meter run with an 11:49.55 time.
Minster senior Natalie Fausey was 13th in the girls 1600 meter run with a 5:31.91 time.
Minster senior Eric Dahlinghaus ran 13th in the boys 3200 meter relay with a 9:55.01 time.
Versailles’ win by a quartet of Winners — Taylor, Haley, Meagan and Amanda Winner — in the 1600 relay clinched the Division III girls state title for the Tigers team that finished with 28 points. Versailles ran a 3:58.73 time.
In other area finishes in Division III, Fort Loramie’s Meg Westerheide finished second in the girls 800 meter run iwth a 2:15.23 time. Spencerville’s Kacie Mulholland took fifth in the girls 400 meter dash (57.9). St. Henry’s Jacob Rindler got to the podium in the boys 800 meter run with an eighth-place finish (1:56.82).