By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — As the start of girls high school track and field nears, here are five pressing questions facing Miami County teams and athletes this spring:
1) Can anyone stop the Troy girls track and field dynasty?
Well, that depends on what you mean by “stopping.”
Can anyone in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division prevent the Trojans from winning a seventh division title in a row? While no teams are going to lie down for the Trojans, it would appear not. Barring a complete rash of injuries or illness for Troy, there just don’t appear to be any teams in the North that are deep enough to keep up with the Trojans.
Will the Trojans three-peat as district champions? That isn’t nearly the given that Troy winning the North would appear to be, but once again, if Troy can stay healthy throughout the season and everyone performs up to their potential, Troy has to be considered the prohibitive favorite to three-peat as district champions again this spring.
Can the Trojans win an overall GWOC title or compete for a top-two finish at regionals?
Those would seem to be the far more legitimate questions facing the Trojans this year. After dominating the North and the district the past few years, Troy is hunting bigger game this spring. Last year, Troy finished second in the overall GWOC standings. Troy will try to take the next step and win an overall GWOC crown. That’s a huge step, considering powerhouse Centerville has been sitting atop the GWOC for the past three years.
For Troy to position itself atop the GWOC, all of its team members will have to be clicking at the same time.
2) Is this Morgan Gigandet’s year to win state?
Troy’s sensational junior distance runner already has an incredible resume — she holds five individual school records, is part of three school relay records and has won conference, district and regional championships in both track and cross country.
The one thing that has eluded her — so far — throughout her career is a state championship. She’s been a state placer in both cross country and the 3,200 the past two seasons, but has yet to capture a state title. She’ll almost undoubtedly face a stiff challenge at state from defending state champion India Johnson of Hilliard Davidson, who will run at Michigan State next year.
“Morgan wants to improve on her kick,” Troy girls coach Kurt Snyder said. “Early in the year we are going to have her run a lot of shorter races to help her work on that.”
3) How will Tippecanoe transition to the Greater Western Ohio Conference?
Truthfully, this is a question that has faced every Red Devil team this year. In girls track, the Red Devils were one of the top teams in the Central Buckeye Conference.
Tippecanoe has the talent — particularly in the distance events — to be a player in the GWOC North. They may not have the numbers or depth of Troy, but there’s no reason to believe they can’t be in the mix with all of the other teams in the division.
In the 17 varsity fall and winter sports that have wrapped up this year, Tippecanoe has won four division titles and finished second four times. The Red Devils are third in the GWOC American North All-Sports Trophy standings heading into the spring.
So far this year, Tippecanoe has more than proven it belongs in the GWOC.
4) Will Covington defend its Cross County Conference and district titles?
The Buccaneers lost a ton of talent, including distance runners Carly Shell and Julianna Yingst, thrower Danielle Swabb and pole vaulter Maria Mohler.
One thing coach Dave Tobias has been successfully able to do in nearly three decades as an assistant or head coach at Covington, however, is reload.
Expect Covington to at the very least contend for both CCC and district championships again this season.
5) How many track and field meets get snowed out this year?
Well, if the current weather is any indication, you certainly can’t rule it out. Unlike baseball and softball — which are played on dirt and grass fields — track takes place on all-weather tracks (which are named as such for a reason). If there’s any chance at all a meet will be run in Miami County, it will be.
So, unless there’s snow on the ground or lightning in the sky, dress appropriately when heading out to a track meet this spring.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong