BATESVILLE — An evening of good competition came down to the final race of the night.
The Batesville Bulldogs claimed their first eastern Indiana Athletic Conference title in 31 years after winning the 4 x 400 relay to close the boys portion of the meet.
Tied with East Central at 142 points, the winner of the final race would determine the champion.
Connor Jeffers, Jordan Walsman, Tyler Leising and Mike Hoeing combined efforts to edge the Trojans at the finish line. The Batesville foursome recorded a winning time of 2:28.98, which was just ahead of East Central’s mark of 2:29.62.
“What an amazing night and what an amazing finish,” BHS coach Lisa Gausman commented. “I love the 4 x 400 relay ... it is such a well respected event and so much fun to watch.
“Tonight was exceptionally intense and fun,” she added.
When the race became official, the final outcome of the meet had the Bulldogs with 152 points followed by the Trojans with 150. Other teams competing included South Dearborn (72), Franklin County (52), Greensburg (49) and Lawrenceburg (18).
The 1,600-relay stole the spotlight at the end of the night, but if it had not been for big night by senior Hayden Merkel the Bulldogs probably would not have been in the position to win.
Merkel dominated the distance events to win three individual events and claimed his third consecutive conference most valuable player award.
“What an instrumental part of the victory ... Hayden’s third year to achieve the MVP honor,” Gausman commented. “Something that has never happened in the history of the conference meet.”
Merkel won the 1,600-meter run in a time of 4:37.84 and followed up with win in the 800- and 3,200-meters with time of 1:57.93 and 10:14.20, respectively. He also placed second in the high jump with a height of 6’ 2”.
The Bulldogs were also conference champions in the 4 x 100-meter relay. The team of Jeffers, Leising, Gunter Jones and Andy Nolan placed first with a time of 44.92.
Key second place finishes were recorded by Gunter Jones (110-meter hurdles), Ben Westerfeld (pole vault), Hoeing (400-meter dash) and Nick Vodzak (3,200-meter run).
Third place honors went to Craig Fullenkamp (110-meter hurdles), Walsman (400-meter dash and shot put), Jones (300-meter hurdles), Leising (200-meter dash) and Bryce Timonera (discus).
The Lady Bulldogs finished a close second to East Central for the girls title.
The Lady Trojans finished with a team score of 165 points, while Batesville was second with 132. South Dearborn was third with 115.5 points followed by Franklin County (44), Greensburg (30.5) and Lawrenceburg (6).
The Lady Bulldogs had two individual conference champions and won relay team place first.
Ginny Westerfeld crossed the finish line first in the 100-meter dash.
Ali Roper claimed the conference title in the high jump with a height of 4’ 10”.
The 3,200-meter relay team of Kelsey Gausman, Hannah Lehfeldt, Abbie Krieg and Anna Meyer teamed up for a winning time of 10:36.82.
Second place finishers for the Lady Bulldogs included Emily Meer (100-meter hurdles), Gausman ( 1,600- and 800-meter runs), Rylee Goldsmith (400-meter dash and high jump). The 1,600-meter relay team of Meer, Goldsmith, Madi Oesterling and Emily Rozman were also runner up.
Third place honors for Batesville went to Whitney McCray (100-meter hurdles), Westerfeld (200-meter dash), Lehfeldt (3,200-meter run). The 400-meter relay team of Rozman, Samantha Brandt, Beth Werner and Kelsey Forbeck placed third as well.