Athletes use final meet as tune-up for Europeans
By MICHAEL S. DARNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 17, 2014
ANSBACH, Germany – Seven high school track teams converged on Ansbach for the final meet of the season Saturday, a week before the DODDS European finals.
While Saturday’s meet was the focus for the athletes still looking to qualify at the last second, the looming specter of next week’s finals at Kaiserslautern was on the forefront of everybody’s mind.
“It’s going to be my last chance on a high school track,” said Ben Nelson, a runner from Vilseck. “At the Europeans, the speed increases dramatically. Wiesbaden, in particular, has some great long distance runners. I just got to hang in there.”
Nelson anchored the Falcons’ long distance events, taking top place in the 3,200-meter run and second place in the 1,600. Teammate David Harris also helped bring the Falcons into first place overall, winning the 110-meter hurdles, the 300-meter hurdles and the 200, as well as running on the 4x100 meter relay team.
The Falcons finished with 190 points through the 17 events. Patch came in second with 116.16 points, in part due to high jumper, C.J. Ferguson.
Ferguson smashed his prior best jump by five inches, topping off at 6 feet, 1 inch.
The Panther record is 6-2, and though he fell short of tying that long-held record, he said he was just happy to break his own personal best and to qualify for next week.
“Honestly, I think it was a miracle. I feel lucky just breaking my own record,” he said. “Today was make it or break it, and I guess I made it.”
The Hohenfels Tigers came in third with 96.50 points, thanks in large part to the seemingly tireless David Vidovic, who took top place in the boys; 100, triple jump and helped his team win both the 4x100 meter relay and the 1,600 sprint medley relay.
Katie Funcheon from Bamberg took top honors in the girls’ 100 and 200, and the long jump, scoring 30 of the 58 points the Barons accumulated.
While Funcheon’s individual performance was impressive, it was the Patch squad that came out on top. The Panthers tallied 158 points, with their relay teams taking first in the, 4x400, 4x800 and second in the 4x100.
Munich International’s girls took second, even though coach Jayson Bowerman said his star runners were supposed to be taking it easy. On Thursday, Bowerman’s school will try to defend its International Schools Sports Tournament title in Munich. He said his squad has a good chance at placing, even though they’re on a shortened schedule.
“We won last year, so being the defending champions is tough, hosting it is tough,” he said. “Realistically, our two varsity teams should win.”
The six other teams were focused on next week’s DODDS championships.
The Vilseck girls’ team, anchored by Amber Rose and China Sumpter, said they’re prepared for the challenge the larger stage is going to bring.
“We’re ready for anything,” Rose said. “We’ve been working hard and as long as we stick together as a team, I know we’ll do great things.”