Subscribe
Kaiserslautern’s Quintin Strawder, left, clears a hurdle on his way to winning the 110-meter high hurdles in 16.26 seconds in the European track and field championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Saturday. At right is Hanau’s Aaron Ellison. Strawder’s surprise victory helped the K-town boys win the team title.

Kaiserslautern’s Quintin Strawder, left, clears a hurdle on his way to winning the 110-meter high hurdles in 16.26 seconds in the European track and field championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Saturday. At right is Hanau’s Aaron Ellison. Strawder’s surprise victory helped the K-town boys win the team title. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

Kaiserslautern’s Quintin Strawder, left, clears a hurdle on his way to winning the 110-meter high hurdles in 16.26 seconds in the European track and field championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Saturday. At right is Hanau’s Aaron Ellison. Strawder’s surprise victory helped the K-town boys win the team title.

Kaiserslautern’s Quintin Strawder, left, clears a hurdle on his way to winning the 110-meter high hurdles in 16.26 seconds in the European track and field championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Saturday. At right is Hanau’s Aaron Ellison. Strawder’s surprise victory helped the K-town boys win the team title. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

Kaiserslautern’s Brian Hill took second place in the discus and shot put events in the European championships in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Kaiserslautern’s Brian Hill took second place in the discus and shot put events in the European championships in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — If you don’t have a regulation track on which to practice, it helps to have performers such as Lynndsey Hyter, Colleen Smith, Quentin Strawder, Jeremy Marshall and Brian Hill and wearing your team’s colors.

Shrugging off the disadvantages of training on a tight, 300-meter track stuffed between the Vogelweh shoppette and a baseball field, Hyter and Smith each won three gold medals in last weekend’s European track and field championships to lead Kaiserslautern to the girls’ team title.

On the boys’ side, hurdlers Strawder and Marshall and Hill, a weight man, fueled the biggest shock of the meet in leading the Red Raiders to an out-of-the-blue crown.

“It came as a complete surprise,” longtime K-town coach Marty Kollar said of the boys’ title. “At the end of Day 1 (Friday), we were in eighth place with eight points.”

By the time the meet ended 24 hours later, however, Kaiserslautern’s boys had 77 points, 12 more than runner-up Ramstein and 18 more than No. 3 overall Hanau. K-town’s girls outdistanced runner-up Würzburg, 93-79.

Fittingly for a team which overcame obstacles all season, a bigger-than-expected chunk of the boys’ points came in the hurdles. A surprise victory by Strawder in the 110-high hurdles produced 10 points, and four fourth-place points in the 110s and eight second-place points in the 300 intermediate hurdles by Marshall boosted the Red Raiders into contention.

“As the points started showing on the scoreboard,” Kollar said, “the kids started asking, ‘Are we getting closer?’ They were very excited.”

Hill had scored all eight of K-town’s first-day points when he finished second to Heidelberg’s Brandon Simmons in the discus. He added eight points by placing second in the shot put Saturday.

K-town’s girls, on the other hand, were a force on the track and in the field. Smith won the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 last weekend for 30 points, then helped her team add four more points in the 3,200-meter relay. Hyter won her fourth straight 300 low hurdles title; the triple jump at the DODDS-Europe record-tying distance of 38 feet, 6 inches; and the long jump; and placed third in the 200 meters.

“Smith and Hyter scored 70 of our 93 points,” Kollar said.

The points in the jumps were significant because K-town had almost nowhere to practice, according to Kollar.

“We had to bus downtown to the university to practice the jumps,” he said. “The rest of the time, we’d high jump in the parking lot.”

When they weren’t downtown, the Red Raiders were contending with the recreational track they inherited when the rutted clay track next to the Vogelweh gym was retired. In addition to its less-than-optimal length, the new make-do track presented other problems.

“The curves are only 80 meters,” Kollar said. “They are really sharp turns.”

Sharp, but, judging from K-town’s results, far from unnegotiable.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up