GOOSE LAKE — Will Seeser is the last athlete to cross the finish line a Big East champion.
At Northeast High School, the final race — ever — in the Big East saw Camanche’s 1,600-meter relay team pull ahead, then fall behind, then slowly close the gap.
When Seeser (the Indians’ anchor-leg runner) got the baton, he was half a step behind leader Nick Anderson of Northeast. A lap later, with a time of 3:35.44, Seeser was the center of a Camanche relay victory mosh pit. He won by 2.5 seconds — a clear winner.
That wasn’t the closest race Monday; it wasn’t the fastest, nor did it break the best marks set in 2013 (the way other competitions would).
It was the last to be “Big East,” carrying with it unique historical weight. Next year, the nine-team conference will be divided as part of IHSAA state realignment.
Seeser’s teammates, coaches and counterparts on the girls team, are also last. Mark and Brenda Metzger are the last Big East coaches of the year, Derek Harksen and Courtney Sowle the last conference athletes of the year.
And both the Indians’ boys and girls teams are collectively Big East champions, to be succeeded by no one.
In a sport predicated upon finishing first, being last Monday somehow made things sweeter.
”Certainly, there’s a little bit of pride going with being the last champion in the Big East,” Mark Metzger said. “We’re real sad to see the Big East go. It’s been a great conference, served a lot of communities for a long time very well.
”But, yeah, there’s a little incentive in trying to win the last one.”
In all, 15 of the Big East’s previous best times and measurements of 2013 fell. Sowle obliterated her personal best 5 feet, 2 inches in the high jump to handily win Monday’s event with a jump of 5-10. Northeast’s Eli Kaczinski smashed the 1,600-meter mark by 6 seconds. Yet, even Kaczinski was outdone by Lisbon’s Austin Springsteen, who reset his own best mark in the conference with a 4:31.13.