Whoever stole the signs commemorating the Fowler High School girls track team's back-to-back state championships recently put up at the entrance to the village, please return them.
The 2012 team especially deserves the recognition for repeating as Division 4 state champions despite the graduation of three great athletes from the 2011 team. The Eagles also earned the title again despite the loss (for all but one event) of Madison Miller, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee during basketball season.
For guiding Fowler, which edged Traverse City St. Francis just 54-50, to another state title, Jill Feldpausch has been named the Lansing State Journal girls track and field coach of the year.
"Our goal was to get to the top two in the state, but our main focus was to keep healthy because we had such a small team," Feldpausch said. "We don't have a lot of girls to work with. But the girls kept working, and the times kept coming down."
She realized her team might be able to repeat after the Eagles' performance in the Fowler Invitational on April 27.
"P-W (Division 3 power and former Division 4 champion Pewamo-Westphalia) was there, and we broke the 800 relay record from last year," Feldpausch said. "I didn't think that would get broken for years. Our 3,200 relay also ran an outstanding time. When I saw the times that day, I knew we had what it took to be a top contender."
The 800-meter relay of sophomore Savanah Feldpausch, juniors Britney Weber and Breann Klein, and senior Elizabeth Thelen wound up winning at the state meet along with the 3,200 relay of Elizabeth Thelen, senior Rebecca Thelen, sophomore Brianna Feldpausch and junior Kieren Becker.
Two other relays narrowly missed state championships. The 1600 relay of Savanah and Brianna Feldpausch, freshman Allison Hufnagel and Elizabeth Thelen finished runner-up, while the 400 relay of Weber, sophomores Brooke VanElls and McKenzie Boyd, and Elizabeth Thelen grabbed a third place.
"I knew our relays would be up there," Feldpausch said. "The key was five or six individuals that I knew could possibly score points but weren't seeded. I knew it would come down to that, and it did since four points is what we won by."
Elizabeth Thelen was able to earn a fifth place in the 400 dash, Klein a seventh in the 200 dash, Savannah Feldpausch a second in the 300 hurdles and seventh in the 100 hurdles, and Becker an eighth in the 1,600 run and sixth in the 3,200 run.
It started pouring rain prior to the last event, the 1,600 relay. Feldpausch just wanted the relay members to hold on to the baton and finish. She didn't know for sure Fowler had won until the official announcement.
Can the Eagles make it three straight?
"We're building a legacy in Fowler," Feldpausch said. "Hopefully we will continue to have success in future years, but there's never any certainty."