By MICHAEL BURWELL
COLUMBUS — The boys 1,600-meter run in the OHSAA Division III state track and field meet was as good as advertised.
And Ottoville junior Brendan Siefker stole the show.
Siefker started his grueling day by leading the 1,600 from start to finish and holding off Hardin Northern’s Nick Bame at the end to win a state title in 4:13.69 Saturday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Stadium.
“I was nervous about that all week. I was so excited for the race and everything and that’s been my goal all year. I wanted to win the mile after doing well last year,” said Siefker, who was the state runner-up a year ago.
“I was kind of in disbelief when I got done. I was kind of shocked by it and I don’t know, it was kind of hard to fathom at first but I’m really excited now.”
Siefker became the first boys state track and field champion in school history. His time moved him to the top of The Courier’s all-time honor roll in the event by nearly five seconds. He beat Findlay’s Sam Bell’s mark of 4:18.23 set in 1995.
And Siefker wasn’t done on Saturday.
The three-time Troy regional winner a week ago finished 15th in the 800 in 2:02.91. He earned a spot back on the awards stand with a fifth-place showing in the 3,200 (9:47.17) after finishing fourth in the event last year.
Siefker was the top seed entering the 1,600 after his 4:21.29 at regionals, while Bame was seeded third (4:22.68).
The two athletes were at the top of the pack the entire race.
Bame was in second place after the first and second laps until Vienna Mathews’ Kenny Wallace passed him after the third lap.
Siefker, though, maintained his lead and held off a charging Bame at the end. Bame (4:14.22) and Wallace (4:16.33) were the only other athletes to break 4:20.
“Coming in, I figured it was probably going to be pretty even between me, Bame and Wallace. I wanted to get a good, quick start on it,” Siefker said. “I know those guys have pretty good kicks, so I wanted them to be a little fatigued by the last lap. Bame tried making a move on me at the 300 and I hung with him, kind of forced him to stay out in lane two by staying with him and then the last 100, I just kicked it in a little bit more.”
Siefker and Bame ran the first two laps in around 2:06, and along with Wallace separated themselves from the rest of the field.
“Nick’s a great 800 runner, he’s a great 400 runner, he’s ran the 200 this year so I was looking at everything, I’m like ‘this guy can kick it in,'” Siefker said. “So I knew, I’m like ‘I got to get out with a good start and use the endurance to my advantage.'”
In the 3,200, Siefker led after the first lap and was second after the second lap, but slipped to seventh after three laps. He stayed in fifth throughout most of the remaining race, was passed by St. Thomas Aquinas’ Edward Walsh and passed him right back at the end to beat him by .25 seconds.
Colonel Crawford’s Chad Johnson, who broke the Tiffin regional meet record with a 9:15.30, won the race by 12 seconds with a 9:20.38.
“The two mile, really, I was just trying to hang in the top eight,” Siefker said. “I wanted to make podium, that was my goal, be all-Ohio.
“I knew Johnson runs really even splits. I always go out in a 65 (seconds) usually, this whole year I’ve done that so I was just like ‘I wasn’t going to change that now.’ So I went out in 65 and then I kind of dropped back from there and I was just really setting my sights, trying to stay within myself and keep with the pack.”
The 800, which took place around 45 minutes after the 1,600, was hard to refuel for Siefker. He said it was hard for him to be mentally prepared and focused for the 800 after being excited about his 1,600 win.
“Unfortunately, in the 800, I think the heat got to me as well, and that mile’s the hardest race I’ve probably ever ran my life,” Siefker said. “It was hard to refuel for it, I think my endurance was there today, but I had no change in speed.
“I tried kicking it up after 300 meters, and I wasn’t going anywhere. So I kind of knew I had to realize that and then try to prepare for the two mile.”
Siefker, who was the Division III state runner-up in cross country to Johnson in the fall, said he’s looking forward to working on defending his state title next year.
“I’m extremely excited about it,” Siefker said. “Hopefully I can lower my times next year and definitely be setting some new goals for next year.”
State Track: Ottoville’s Siefker steals the show
By MICHAEL BURWELL