KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Mykala Bazen made her last high school race count.
At the DODDS Europe Track and Field Championships on Saturday, the Ansbach senior broke the DODDS European record in the 300-meter hurdles.
Bazen crossed the line in 44.71 seconds, topping the 44.80 set by Ansbach alum Tiffany Heard in 2010 and dusting the rest of the field by nearly four seconds.
Bazen, who plans to run track at the University of Florida next year, said she had been chasing the record all year. "It was my last race in high school. I really wanted to do it," she said.
Bazen also nabbed gold in the 100-meter hurdles and ran 400 legs Saturday as part of two different relay teams, an exceptional effort that earned her the nod as the meet's most valuable female athlete in running events.
The second day of track and field competition saw not one but two European records fall, the other courtesy of Ramstein junior Madison Morse in the 1,600.
A slew of new champions were also crowned, several by freshmen. And a handful of thrilling races were determined by a lean at the finish line, keeping the crowd at Kaiserslautern High School stadium on its feet throughout most of the afternoon.
Among the races decided by a hair – or in this case .01 seconds – were the boys' 100- and 200-meter dashes. Naples' junior Cameron Copeland took the gold in both. In the shorter sprint, he beat Vicenza's Karl Bulgin.
"He would have won if he had leaned," Copeland said of Bulgin.
The gold in both races was up for grabs with defending champion Anthony Little of Wiesbaden not in the picture. Little was back in the States attending to family issues, his teammates said. But his absence didn't stop the Warriors from sprinting to win the 400-meter relay and defending their 2013 title.
Anchor Andrew Murray had the formidable task of racing the speedy Copeland through the last 100 meters. "The only thing I told them was, if you give me the lead, I will not lose it," Murray said he told his teammates, Daivon Poole, DeQuan Reed and Keyshaun Green.
Reed handed the baton to Murray in first. He flashed a pained smile as he crossed the finish, having fended off a fast-closing Copeland.
The girls' 1,600-meter run wasn't nearly as close – at least at the end. For nearly three laps, Kaiserslautern's Shanice Harmon tailed Morse, the defending champion.
At the bell lap, Morse pulled away and charged hard to the finish, clocking 5:12.48 to break the record of 5:13.08, set by Ramstein alum Jessica Kafer in 2012.
"It was hard but I just wanted to get out there," she said. "Shanice pushed me."
Morse was among a number of the meet's workhorses running in multiple events. Later in the day, she gutted out a win in the 800, holding off a late challenge in the final 200 meters by Patch's Julia Lockridge to win by less than two seconds in 2:18.71.
With little rest, Morse churned out another 800 meters as anchor of Ramstein's winning 1,600-meter sprint medley team.
Other multiple individual winners on the track included Vilseck's David Harris in the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles – victories that helped clinch MVP honors for the senior in the running events.
After getting fifth in both events last year, Harris approached track practice this season with a laser focus. "This year I worked twice as hard, if not three times as hard," he said. "I've been working for first place."
In the sprints, Bamberg junior Katie Funcheon rocketed to firsts in the 100 and 200. In the latter, she edged Ramstein sophomore Denee Lawrence by .01 seconds, a finish so close that neither Funcheon nor Lawrence were sure who had won.
Funcheon's two golds, along with two golds in the shot put and discus by fellow junior Damonique Lamons – the girls' MVP in field events - and a silver in the shot put by freshman Mckenzie Milligan helped boost Bamberg to the team title in Division III.
The Barons, in their school's last year, brought only three athletes to the championships. Only about 19 students remain at the school, with many having already moved, said track coach John Cogswell.
"I think it's a great way to go out with a bang," he said of the team title.
Also going out with a bang was Wiesbaden senior Alex Wieman. After finishing fourth last year in the 3,200, Wieman, who plans to run next year at the U.S. Naval Academy, ran a personal record of 10:01.33 to get his first individual gold at the European track finals.
"It feels really nice," he said. Wieman was also part of the Warriors' winning 3,200-meter relay team, along with Dustin Morton, Ryan Parker, and Kelsey Thomas.
Ramstein fielded a number of strong relay teams, as well, winning the girls' 400-meter and 1,600 meter and the boys' 1,600-meter races.
After winning the high jump Friday, Patch junior Christopher Ferguson added another title in the triple jump on Saturday, landing a mark of 44 feet, 1.5 inches to beat Ramstein's Jamael Kingsberry. Kingsberry was named the MVP for boys in the field events.
Two freshmen won titles: Kaiserslautern's Wesley Donhauser in the discus and Black Forest Academy's Erin Fortune in the high jump.