In just its second year competing in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, the Gibsonburg boys track team won its first league title, ending Toledo Christian's run of nine consecutive championships.
As a team, the Golden Bears finished with 153 points, just ahead of TC, which had 144½. Cardinal Stritch Catholic, finished with 67 points.
The move to the TAAC has been a good one for Gibsonburg. Charter members of the now-defunct Suburban Lakes League for 40 years (1972-2011), the Bears are finding championship trophies easier to come by against their new conference foes.
It was especially sweet for Gibsonburg considering that they finished five points short of winning the TAAC title last year. And they also graduated a number of key athletes from last year's team, among them Jon Angelone, Jacob Kissell, Jared Columber, Curtis Davies and Demitrius Ernsberger.
Gibsonburg got four first-place finishes, including two from junior Andy Burmeister. Burmeister, in just his first year on the track team, won the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 5½ inches, just a half-inch ahead of the second place finisher, and Burmeister won the 400 meter dash in 54.42 seconds. Josh Bryan was first in the high jump (5-10) and Tyler Hovis won the shot put with a throw of 47-3. Hovis was also second in the discus (123-8).
Other individual second place finishers were Troy Ickes in the pole vault (9-6) and Jacob Merryfield in the 1,600 (4:55.09). And the Bears put themselves over the top with a second place finish in all four relays.
Ultimately, the difference in defeating Toledo Christian was Gibsonburg’s depth. The Eagles had nine first place finishes to the Bears' four, but Gibsonburg was able to win because of its ability to pick up points with third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes.
“I was pretty happy,” said Gibsonburg coach Glenn Owens. “It was pretty exciting. The kids were really excited. We talked at the beginning of the year about winning the TAAC. I'm not sure the guys actually thought it would happen.”
Burmeister said, “Winning the TAAC for the first time and snapping TC's run of consecutive (titles) felt great,” he said. “But we couldn't have done it without a team effort and everyone doing their part and maybe a little a luck. We worked really hard to get to this point. Coming into the year, I'm pretty sure everyone wanted to (pick) TC in the TAAC. Coach pushed us a lot the last three weeks to get us ready and that paid off.”
Burmeister, who is the starting center on the Bears’ basketball team, didn't join the track team until this spring. In fact, he had planned on working to get better at basketball, but was encouraged by some of his track teammates to join the squad. Burmeister had played baseball during his first two years of high school before making the switch.
The Gibsonburg girls fared well, too, finishing second behind TC. The Eagles came away with 163 points and the Lady Bears, led by the Reynolds twins, Colleen and Kendall, finished with 135 points.
Colleen had three individual first-place finishes, winning the 100 (12.64), 200 (25.83) and 400 (1:00.76). She was also part of the 4x400 relay team of Isabel Del Toro, Reynolds, Selena Alejandro and Kendall Reynolds that finished first in 4:30.08.
Second place finishers included Kendall Reynolds, who was second in three events — the 100 (12.69), 200 (26.13) and 400 (1:00.93). Courtney Ksench was second in the 1,600 (5:52.99), Hannah Ersnthausen was second in the high jump (4-8) and the 4x800 relay team of Kelleigh Beatty, Johanna Wilruth, Molly Burkett and Ksenich finished in 11:15.13.