By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
After missing out on the NECC team title last season by three points, the Fairfield High School girls track and field team has been using “Be The 3” as a motivational saying this season.
It worked Friday night as the Falcons amassed 116 1/2 points to edge out Angola at 107 1/2 for the 2013 league title.
“We challenged them to be the one that scored the three points we needed to win,” Fairfield coach Darin Holsopple said. “We had a lot of them. We had girls that moved up in their heats and girls that placed out of the slower heats.”
It wasn’t easy as the Falcons trailed Angola by 21 points after the high jump.
“We just kept chipping away and ended up on top,” the coach said.
The boys meet was also tight, coming down to the final event — the 4 x 400-meter relay. Westview took a slim three-point lead into the 4 x 400 only to have it’s team disqualified and Fairfield ended up winning the event and taking the team title by seven points.
“We knew the 4 x 400 could be tight,” Fairfield coach Bob Miller said. “At the Kelly Relays (on Friday, May 3) Westview had the lead going into the anchor leg before (senior) Brett Baumgartner caught and passed them.
“We kind of stumbled in some places where we should not have. A young westview team had a great night.”
The year 1993 was the last time the Westview boys won the NECC championship.
“The kids wanted to win this meet, but all season long our goal has been sectional,” Westview coach Paul Baker said. “We scored well in some events but not so well in others. The key in a meet like this is keeping the points coming at all times.”
Baumgartner had an exceptional evening, winning the 100 (11.39) and 200 (22.46) in addition to anchoring winning 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays.
Westview senior Nate Raber won pole vault with an effort of 15-0, breaking the conference mark of 14-4 set by his junior teammate Trey Kennedy last season.
Kennedy was the runner-up to Raber on Friday (14-6).
“The weather conditions changed again, but you have to keep doing the same things to get the results,” Raber said. “Our goal coming in was for the two of us to go 1-2 since we needed the points.
“It really helps having a teammate like Trey. He pushes and motivates me, because I don’t want to get beat by a teammate.”
Raber began vaulting in the 7th grade.
“I took it up since you don’t have to run as much as you do in other events,” he said.
Fairfield sophomore Taylor Stidham was one of the girls Holsopple highlighted. She placed third in the 1,600 (5:.44.43), fifth in the 800 (2:39.41) and third in the 3,200 (12:37.39). She also anchored Fairfield’s 4 x 800 relay that finished fourth in 10:35.68.
‘Taylor ran 3 1/2 miles and carried us to victory,” Holsopple said.
Stidham said, “I’m tired. My plan coming in was to finish no lower than third in any events. I fell a little flat of that in the 800, but came back in the 3,200.
“Winning as a team is awesome. This show who Fairfield really is. We may be the team on top, but we are going to prove it to you before we are going to tell you about it.”
Another key for the Falcons were a third in the 200 by freshman Riley Miller (27.69) and a fifth by her twin sister Jessica Miller (28.22).
“You could just see that they didn’t want to lose to each other,:” the coach said.
Fairfield senior Sophie Brown won pole vault with an effort of 12-6 to set a new NECC record. She established an all-time best by an Elkhart County girl. Alisha Fritschi of Northridge had the previous mark at 12-0.