LAKESIDE - Bethany McGraw knew what was at stake while she competed at the Toledo Area Athletic Conference track and field championship yesterday.
"[Coach Paul Barney] said, 'No pressure, Bethany, but in order for us to win the TAAC you have to get first in all of your events,'●" McGraw said. "I just said, 'Thanks, coach. No pressure or anything.'●"
McGraw responded to the pressure, though, winning the three sprints and the long jump to lead Toledo Christian to the TAAC girls title at Danbury's Biro Field. The Eagles broke Cardinal Stritch's six-year hold on the title by scoring 111 points, 10 more than second-place Ottawa Hills and 16 more than the third-place Cardinals.
Toledo Christian also claimed its third consecutive boys title, setting a meet record with 204 points to more than double the total of runner-up Northwood. Maumee Valley was third (71).
Barney admitted that he didn't pull any punches when telling McGraw how much was riding on her performance.
"We laid it right out to her," Barney said. "We knew there would be some challenges: There was Kristin Meister in the 100, and several others. But she was up to the challenge."
McGraw claimed the 100 (13.3 seconds), 200 (26.9) and the 400 (1:00.0) as well as the long jump (16-0 1/2) for four of the Eagles' six victories on the day. The other two came from Kristen Seibert in both the shot put (33-1 1/2) and the discus (92-5).
Barney, who was named the league's coach of the year for both the boys and girls, said the most satisfying part of the meet came when Abby Nearhood and Christine Snyder finished second and third, respectively, to Ottawa Hills' Hollis Barber in the 3200.
"I challenged them," Barney said. "If they could take 2-3, it would seal the deal for us."
Barber was one of five winners for the Green Bears: Christy Reams took first in the 800
(2:25.4) and 1600 (5:33.0), while Monica Gladieux broke her meet record in the pole vault by clearing 9-0. The other win came from the 3200 relay of Emily Donnell, Megan Jamieson, Barber and Reams with a 10:20.7 clocking.
On the boys side the Eagles barely broke a sweat in winning, even though they weren't at full strength. The most notable absence was top-rated sprinter Marc Benjamin, who was out with a hamstring injury.
"That forced us to move some guys around at some different areas," Barney said. "It took away from some of our relays, but we knew overall we were pretty strong and the boys probably would win without him."
Barney said the key to setting the meet scoring record was getting points from unexpected sources.
"Andrew Bosserman winning the 100 by beating Mark Rossol, and Rossol coming back and winning the 400 [were both nice surprises]," Barney said. "Ben Pereus, a first-year guy, winning the high jump and Kyle Bensch, who has been here three years and not won a TAAC championship, won the long jump.
"Of course, Steve Lane winning four events and setting two league efforts was big - he's a big gun. But this was a team effort. "
Lane was named the outstanding performer of the boys meet, winning the three distance events - and setting meet records in the 1600 (4:23.9) and 3200 (9:53.3) - while also anchoring the school's winning 3,200 relay. Lane said his goal was to break his brother Dan's meet record of 4:34.5 in the 1600.
"I wasn't hearing my 1200 split, and I thought, 'Oh, maybe I'm really slow and my coach doesn't want to tell me the bad news.' Halfway from the end in the last lap he yelled, 'You can get the school record,' so that's what I tried to do."
Toledo Christian also got a pair of firsts from Josh Kaiser, who broke the meet record in the shot put with a throw of 49-11 and won the discus with a toss of 137-5.
The other first-place effort for TC came from the 1600 relay team of Tyler Boris, Blake Powell, Pereus and Bosserman (3:41.8).
Meanwhile, Maumee Valley's Chris Sackmann won both hurdle events, breaking his own meet record in the 300 (39.6), while anchoring the Hawks' winning 400 and 800 relays.
"I wanted to do as well as I could in the hurdles, but my goals there are more [pointed] towards the state meet. So I tried to help us do as well as we could in the relays."
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