Minster Girls Capture 13th State Track Title With Dominating Performance

Staff Writer

The Minster girls track team knocked on the door for three years. The Wildcats finally reached the top of the podium once again, adding to their program’s incredible legacy at the state meet and yet another state championship to a charmed athletics season for Minster High School.

The Minster girls ran away with the Division III state title with 57 points — the 13th in program history and first since 2004 — and crowned champions in two events — Emma Watcke in the 1600 and the 3200 meter relay — at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

The team gathered behind the podium as the final relay played out, embracing and celebrating as the realization that Minster’s quest to get back to the top of the state, which included runner-up finishes the last three seasons, had ended.

“I have no clue when this will sink in,” Minster head coach Jessie Magoto said. “These two days are very long and I keep telling the girls don’t count points, do your best. One race at a time. Get to final and then in final get every point you can. Just keep fighting, keep fighting and in the end we’ll see where we’re at. I did not want that kind of pressure on them. But they started doing well, getting momentum with Emma (Watcke) in the mile, our 4-by-100, three and four in the 800. They just felt that confidence from each other.”

Minster got close over the past three years, often holding points leads late into Saturday’s competition, only to watch St. Thomas Aquinas twice pull away late and last to see neighbor Anna squeak out a two-point margin.   This year there was no question that the Wildcats would get it done with a deep roster that piled up points throughout the weekend.

“Scoring more than we thought, that’s always a goal,” Magoto said. “I want to see you perform now. The pressure’s on, people are here, go get it.”

Minster’s 13 titles means Minster inched closer to Cleveland Height Beaumont for the girls record for state team track titles. Minster’s 2018 squad joins the 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 1989, 1985, 1982, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977 and 1976 squads to earn the state title. It’s also the 21st time Minster’s girls have finished first or second at state.

Just a sophomore, Emma Watcke is already in rare air at a school filled with legendary athletes. Watcke two state titles in the 1600 and as part of the 3200 relay team and added a silver medal for good measure in the 3200 meters. Add in an individual title at the state cross country meet this past fall and she's quickly making a name for herself as one of Ohio's best runners.

The Wildcats started off the state meet on Friday with a state title in the very first event, winning that 3200 relay with senior Cassie Francis, junior Kaitlynn Albers, Watcke and junior Madeline Magoto crossing the finish line almost 12 seconds before the next-best competitor in a 9:18.41 time.

“We were confident in how consistently we were doing,” Francis said. “This is no different. We just go out and do our thing.”

“This is the same relay as last year, so it’s cool to grow and go through all these things together,” Albers said. “We all share the same goals and sacrifice so much. Those bonds and those relationships carry through.”

“It feels great to start off the tournament with a bang,” Madeline Magoto said. “We’re hoping the rest of the weekend goes our way.”

It did with a Saturday that saw athletes in orange and black near the top of the podium all afternoon.

Watcke dominated on Saturday, biding her time in the 1600 for three laps near the front and then hitting the accelerator pedal with about 250 meters left in the race. Watcke past Miranda Stanhope of Badger and Emily Sreenan of Lima Central Catholic and pulling away for a 5:00.15 time — nearly a one-second improvement from her 5:01.08 winning time as a freshman — and her second straight 1600 meter state title.

“I just tried to go into it relaxed and think about getting as many points as I can for my team,” Watcke said.

“It’s awesome, just having all these girls who qualified from regional here and being with them, it’s awesome,” Watcke said. “It’s just great to see all of the hard work we put into this season pay off.”

Watcke then turned in a stellar performance in the 3200, finishing second a year after fading a bit in the event on the heels of her 1600 state title. The sophomore said she’s improving in the event with time.

“It’s definitely challenging, but I’ve been getting better at the two-mile this year,” Watcke said. “I was pretty happy.”

The finish of the 800 meters saw two Wildcats running in stride at the finish, as Madeline Magoto took third for the third straight year in the event with a 2:15.7 time and teammate Cassie Francis surged to the finish right behind her in fourth (2:16.07).

“We were just thinking about fighting for points, fight for everything,” Francis said. “We practice finishes together a lot and they’re always really good. So at the end of that race, really trying to pull it through one last time. You always have one more gear. That’s what we always say.  You always have one more gear, it’s true.

The two embraced soon after the finish.

“It’s the greatest feeling having Cassie come up to me right after the race saying, ‘Three and four! Great job!,’” Magoto said. “It’s a great feeling.”

In a season where the girls cross country team, football team and girls basketball team at Minster had already won state titles, the girls track team made it a fourth team state title in 2017-2018.

“When you get going, people believe they can do it,” Magoto said. “That’s part of it, but I’m not taking anything away from these girls. They make sacrifices, they bust butt, they do what we ask of them time and time and time again. I thank them all for trusting us, for making sacrifices. It’s great when you see it pay off like this, but we all know it’s going to pay off much bigger in life.”