By Josh Brown
WEST MILTON — From posting a state- and even national-level time last week, Troy’s Morgan Gigandet’s world got a bit smaller this weekend.
That didn’t stop her from collecting another big accomplishment.
Gigandet won her third straight Miami County Championships individual title — and third in three tries — running a time of 17:31.1 to lead a trio of Trojans at the top of the standings and five in the top eight as Troy won its second consecutive team title with 21 points Saturday at Milton-Union High School.
The Troy senior, at the Centerville Night Lights race on Sept. 23, won in a time of 17:06 — not only a personal best, but also the top time in the state of Ohio this year and the fifth-best in the nation. Still, the smaller scale of Saturday’s race didn’t make the day any less special for Gigandet, who was injured her freshman year and couldn’t run in the County.
“I was injured, so I didn’t get to race it,” she said. “I really like the course, and the competitors are all so nice and so good. And it does feel good to contribute to my team by placing first. Tipp is good competition. Their team is all really good, and that motivates us. We knew in order to win, we had to get the top three.”
Fellow senior Emma Shigley — who won the County as a freshman while Gigandet was injured — finished second in 18:47.3 and Olivia Tyre finished third in 19:03.3. Kate Pence, who has only been back from injury for roughly two weeks, finished seventh in 20:06.4, and Megan Myers was eighth in 20:11.5.
And Troy coach Kevin Alexander knows just how big Miami County’s cross country tradition is.
“Today, being able to put our top three girls going one-two-three, I didn’t expect that,” he said. “Not with the tradition and talent that Miami County produces. Between Tipp being such a quality program, the two Bradford girls, Covington and the other individuals today, it was amazing to get the top three and five of the top eight. It was really impressive, especially against a field like this.
“Tipp’s got such a great tradition and program that we can measure ourselves against — and to have them right in our own backyard, it allows the girls to always be pushed. The girls did fantastic today.”
And while she may have had a comfortable lead Saturday, Gigandet found out what it was like to be pushed at Centerville.
“That was so much fun,” Gigandet said. “It was fun. Going into it, I knew (Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Anne Forsyth) was good, and my PR from my sophomore year was 17:26. I plateaued my junior year, so I knew if I wanted to win, I had to go first. Going into it, I stayed second and just kept my eye on her — and realized she wasn’t picking it up. So I picked it up and passed her at about the 1.5 mile mark. But then I worried that she would pass me because she’s so fast, so I just kept on going. I think it did help me.”
“Morgan’s does not back down from the top people,” Alexander said. “If she wins, it’s ‘hey, I ran the best I could.’ And if she loses — which, she hasn’t yet this year — it’s ‘hey, I ran the best I could, and they beat me.’ It doesn’t get to her too much.”
It turned out, that led to the fifth-best time in the country this year.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the top numbers in the country, but I guess those numbers don’t count really,” Gigandet said. “I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. The competition’s different, courses are different. And it was hot last week.”
And when asked if she felt having the best time in the state counted, Gigandet had the perfect response.
“It doesn’t count until state,” she said. “If I can beat that girl from Michigan, and feeling somewhat comfortable — I wasn’t comfortable, of course. I mean it was still hard. But if she was right there with me, I feel like I could’ve gone faster. So at state, I know I can do really well.
“Everyone on the team is PRing, and the pieces are all falling into place. I think by the end of the season, we will all be in a good spot.”
Tippecanoe — which Troy will compete against plenty in the next couple weeks before the Greater Western Ohio Conference meet Oct. 14 at Centerville — was the team runner-up with 50 points.
Katie Taylor led the Red Devils in fourth (19:12.4), Laura Fink was 10th (20:19.8), Jillian Brown was 11th (20:23.7), Stephanie Fink was 12th (20:31) and Makenzie Dietz was 14th (20:36.8).
“The girls had won nine in a row before last year,” Tippecanoe coach Byron Kimmel said. “We’ve just got to get healthy. We’re dealing with a lot of injuries. We’re at the mercy of that right now.”
Covington was third with 99 points, led by a top-10 finish by Paige Boehringer in ninth (20:15.3). Ashlyn Plessinger was 17th (20:47.3), Danielle Alexander was 20th (21:16.3), Chelsea Ford was 31st (22:29.4) and Kelsey Dysinger was 34th (22:35.5).
Bradford was fourth with 114 points, led by a pair of runners in the top 10. Karmen Knepp was fifth (19:49.6), Skipp Miller was sixth (20:01.5), Mercedes Smith was 37th (22:53.6), Olivia Daugherty 38th (22:54.8) and Chelsea Gill was 55th (24:07.2).
Milton-Union was fifth with 125 points. Rachel Thompson was 19th (21:16.3), Kyli Parsons was 25th (22:00.9), Brianna Collins was 28th (22:13.9), Kiley Jacobe was 29th (22:21.7) and Ally Lyons was 40th (22:58.2).
Piqua was sixth with 163 points, led by Ana Adams (18th, 20:52.3). Miami East was seventh with 191 points, led by Lindsey Yingst (16th, (20:42.9). Bethel was eighth with 197 points, led by Kaitlyn Balkcom (22nd, 21:45.1). Newton was led by Macy Flanary (13th, 20:35). Troy Christian was led by Sophie Pitsenbarger (47th, 23:31.1).
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.