By David Fong
DAYTON — One year ago, Morgan Gigandet was a starry-eyed freshman just happy to to be competing at the state track and field meet.
It’s safe to say Gigandet — who blew away the field in the 3,200 at the Division I regional meet at Welcome Stadium Friday — is no longer happy just to be there.
Gigandet, who will be one of two or three favorites to win a state title at next week’s met in Columbus, has far loftier goals in mind this year.
“Last year, I was more excited just to go,” said Gigandet, who won the regional title in 10:47.23. “This year, I want to go and win it. That’s my goal. I know I’m going to have to work hard to do it.”
As has been the case the last three weeks, Gigandet — who easily won Greater Western Ohio Conference and district titles — was scarcely challenged at regionals. She took the early lead and cruised to a massive lead, winning the event by more than 20 seconds.
“I think I ran well,” Gigandet said in her typically understated fashion. “I think I ran a nice, constant race. I mean, I placed well and my time was pretty good.”
Although she has set her goals higher at the state meet this year, Gigandet is relieved to have her ticket punched to Columbus.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It feels great after all the hard work I’ve put in.”
• Walters second in shot
Kelsey Walters remains in search of the perfect throw.
Troy’s senior shot putter got one step closer Friday, however, uncorking a heave of 41-10, good enough to break her own school record by more than a foot, second place at the Division I regional meet and a second-straight trip to the state meet in Columbus next week.
“I still feel like I can get 43,” Walters said. “I know I can do it.”
Walters’ heave — which was second to Centerville’s Isis Trotman’s throw of 42-8 — not only put her one step closer to her ultimate goal, but also put mark that much deeper in the Trojan record books.
“I want to have my record stay around for a long time — I want it to stay around for decades,” she said. “I don’t want it to just be around for a short time. I want the person who breaks it to have to work really hard for it. I don’t want it to be easy for them.”
Walters — who barely missed qualifying for the finals last year — is hoping to save her best for a final meet … which could be enough to earn her a spot on the podium if she gets the throw for which she is looking.
“Last year I honestly didn’t think I’d even go to state,” Walters said. “I was just happy to be there. This year, I want to go there and I want to place. Going last year really helped me. This year, I know what to expect. I’m just going to go there and give it my best shot.”
• Trojans place fifth
Led by Gigandet and Walters, the Trojans placed fifth as a team with 32 points. Cincinnati Withrow won the meet with 103 points, Centerville was second (83), Mason was third (64) and Kings was fourth (33).
The Trojans also had a number of competitors make the podium Friday, albeit outside of the top four, which would have earned them a state berth.
Troy’s 4×800 team of Megan Myers, Gigandet, Olivia Tyre and Emma Shigley placed fifth (9:41.50).
Pole vaulter Christine Moser placed sixth with a personal record of 11-2.
Ashley Barr placed seventh in the 400 (59.21 seconds). Shigley placed seventh in the 3,200 (11:41.54).
Alaura Holycross placed eighth in the shot put (35-1.5). The 4×200 team of Walters, Jordan Hoffman, Kayla Hemm and Ciena Miller placed eighth (1:49.60). The 4×100 team of Walters, Celina Courts, Barr and Annah Stanley also placed eighth (50.36 seconds).
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong