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PORDENONE, Italy - Vilseck and Ansbach made a daunting 10-hour trip through the Alps this weekend, each with only about one-third their teams. Nonetheless, both brought a pool of talent - as well as some rain - for a rare chance to compete with their counterparts from Italy.

“It’s a great opportunity for the Italian teams to play the Germany teams – we have a lot of competition in Germany,” Eric Mead, Vilseck’s track coach said. “It’s too bad we brought the weather too.”

Vilseck, with only 25 of its 75 athletes, took first place in boys with 163 points and second in girls with 84.50. Vilseck triumphed in more than half the 34 events.

Richard Griffith, last year’s European champion in the high jump, ended his morning with a personal best. The 6-foot-2 senior surpassed his own height by two inches, clinching the high jump.

All the jumps were held inside on the third floor of the facility in Pordenone that Aviano uses for its home meets. It was the first time that most at the meet had seen such a setup.

“The competition here was good, but I was a little worried because everyone started jumping at a lower height than me,” Griffith said with a demure smile.

He attributes his ability to reach new heights by his extensive workout regimen, which includes box jumps, non-stop lunges, and starting his first workout day each week with jumping his max height for as long as possible.

Teammate Ben Nelson won the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes 50 seconds and the 3,200 in 10:30.21, leaving his nearest competitors well behind.

Ansbach, with five less participants than Vilseck, was just glad to compete without having to worry about snow.

“At the beginning of the season, it’s just difficult,” Ansbach head coach Mike Jimerson said, “We had snow on the track for the first three weeks – whereas Italy has had a little more time to prepare.”

Ansbach took first in seven events and won the girls competition with 112.5 points.

“Great experience to let the kids compete against each other,” Jimerson said, “Piggy backing with another school to come down made for a great idea.”

Naples matched Ansbach with seven wins and took second in the boys’ competition.

“You really have to thank Karen Seadore for being able to make this event happen – with the scheduling and the budget,” Mead said.

“We figured if they were able to give up their first meet it would allow for us to make this trip,” Seadore, DODDS-Europe athletic director said. ”And it’s been a great opportunity.”

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