Coach Glenn Owens thought it would be a good idea to give Gibsonburg’s boys and girls track teams some added motivation to win this year’s Toledo Area Athletic Conference meet, which was held last Saturday at Gibsonburg.
The Golden Bears were shooting for their second straight TAAC boys’ title, while the girls were looking to unseat Toledo Christian for the top spot. So what did Owens do? He gave the go-ahead for the girls to put up a sign counting down the number of days before the TAAC meet.
“A bunch of the girls kind of got into it with (distance) coach Beth Kohler,” Owens said. “It seemed to work out. Every once in a while I would send out a max text to the team, (reminding them) how many days we had to go.”
|Gibsonburg senior Andy Burmeister makes
his landing in the long jump. (Photos courtesy
of Innovations Portrait Studion/Innovations
Gibsonburg’s boys repeated as conference champions, while the girls took second behind Toledo Christian, which won its seventh straight title.
“Last year it was really tight when we beat Toledo Christian (for the boys’ title),” Owens said. “At the beginning of this track season, at our first meeting, the goal we set for ourselves was to win a league championship, to see if we could repeat with the boys. We were hoping to get it with the girls.”
The Golden Bears’ boys just might dominate the TAAC for a while. This year’s squad had just two seniors in Alex Garcia and Andy Burmeister.
Garcia second at the TAAC meet in the 100, finished third in the 200 and ran a leg on the Bears’ runner-up 4x100 relay. Burmeister defended his title in the long jump, with a leap of 18-8.25, took sixth in the 200 and anchored the 4x200 relay team that took first place and included Garcia and sophomores Erik Jahna and Josh Dyer (1:38.50).
The meet – in fact, the entire season – has been very special for Garcia, who ran track as a freshman but didn’t participate as a sophomore or junior. He suffered a back injury as a sophomore and didn’t want to risk getting injured again the following spring.
He said he went out again as a senior because “I wanted to be a part of something.”
“It was iffy if I wanted to join or not,” Garcia said. “I kind of just did it on my own because I wanted to do something special. Mr. Owens has helped me out a lot. He’s always there for me and he talks to me about things. He’s easy to talk to and it’s nice having someone there to talk to. I feel like I’ve grown as a person and as a man. I wanted to run track and thought, ‘I think I can do pretty well this year.’ I have done pretty well. It’s been nice.”
Owens said Garcia has been a big addition.
“I talked to him in the halls about coming out,” the coach said. “He had a lot of potential when he was younger and we had talks about what he needed to do, and he picked it up pretty quick. I’ve wondered what he could have done if he would have come out all four years. He’s a really likeable kid and is a hard worker.”
One payoff for Garcia was hoisting the TAAC championship trophy last weekend.
“To me, it meant a lot, being a part of something great like that,” he said. “Being a senior and getting that in your last year of high school, it feels great. Nothing could have ruined that. I feel I’ve contributed to the team, and earning that trophy felt amazing.”
Burmeister went out for track for the first time last season and went on to win the 400 title at the TAAC meet and reached the Division III district finals in the long jump and 400. He said winning the team title again last Saturday was icing on the cake for him and the rest of the squad.
“This is my senior year and my last chance,” Burmeister said. “It meant everything to me for us to be able to defend it and get it again. I’m pretty happy with the way everything went. I had a groin injury that held me out two weeks. If I could take that back, things would change. The TAAC was my first full meet back after being out two weeks. I practiced, but not a full practice, little bit of jogging. The long jump has been my favorite (event) this year.”
Burmeister set a personal record (18-10) in the long jump the week before the TAAC meet, at the Ottawa Hills Relays. Even though he wasn’t able to defend his 400 title at the TAAC meet, finishing second to Toledo Christian’s Mike Norman by a little over one second, Burmeister took it in stride.
“I ran my race,” he said. “Everyone else started out super fast. Coming around turn three and four, I was fifth or sixth and I had to sprint in to get second. I knew going in I probably wasn’t going to win, so I was happy with second.”
Owens said he’s been pleased with Burmeister’s effort and progress over the past two years.
“Andy is definitely a hard worker, and I think he’s come to enjoy track,” Owens said. “Last year when he came out I think it was just something to do. When he had some success, that built a little interest in becoming better in whatever events we had him in.”
Gibsonburg competes in the district meet on Wednesday and Saturday (girls) and Thursday and Saturday (boys) at Fremont Ross. Garcia and his teammates hope their season doesn’t end this week.
“I’m a little nervous,” Garcia said, “but I’m also a little excited just to be a part of that.”