By David Fong
TROY — As a math teacher by trade, Kurt Snyder doesn’t have to crunch the numbers too long to realize what he lost off last year’s Troy girls track and field team.
On the flip side, however, Snyder also doesn’t have to do a whole lot of calculations to figure out just how much the Trojans have coming back, too.
“We lost some talented seniors who we could count on to give us 30-40 points every meet,” said Snyder, who coached the Trojans to a fifth-straight Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division title and a Division I district meet championship last season. “But I also feel like we’ve got more depth coming back this year. We feel like we a three, four and five deep in most events. We’ve got 91 girls out for the team, which is by far the most we’ve ever had.”
All of which leads Snyder to believe that his team — despite losing a senior class led by sprinter Gracie Huffman, a five-time state placer and holder of five school records — still should be a contender for a sixth-straight GWOC North title.
The math is simple, really.
“We may have lost about 40 team points to graduation — but we also won the North by more than 70 points,” Snyder said. “We lost our best sprinter, but we the sprinters we have coming back have two of the top three times in the division — the rest graduated.
“There’s always some doubt — Butler has pretty much everyone back from last year — but I think our kids will embrace the challenge. We’ve got a good group of senior leaders and everyone understands what the expectations are. We’ve had a lot of success in recent years and I think kids want to be a part of that.”
Truthfully, even with the losses to graduation, the Trojans would appear stacked in nearly every event.
In the distance events, the Trojans have a deep talent pool of runners who placed fifth at last fall’s Division I state cross country meet. Leading the way is sophomore Morgan Gigandet, who placed seventh at the state meet in the 3,200 last spring and fourth at the state cross country meet last fall.
She’ll be joined in the distance events by fellow sophomores Emma Shigley and Megan Myers, seniors Rachel Davidson, Katie Fetter, Haley Huelsman Anya North and Megan Sweeney, along with junior Megan Studebaker.
“The nice thing about our depth in the distance events is it will allow some of the girls to focus on individual events, instead of having to worry about running multiple events every meet,” Snyder said. “Some girls can focus on the 800, some can focus on the 1,600 and some can focus on the 3,200.”
The Trojans also should get plenty of points out of the field events.
Leading the way in the throwing events will be senior Kelsey Walters, who placed 10th at state in the shot put last year, setting a school record in the process. Sophomores Alaura Holycross and Kylee Brooks — both of whom were regional qualifiers last year as freshmen — return in the shot put and discus, respectively. Juniors Amanda Setser and Haley Gray also should score some points for the Trojans in the throwing events.
In the pole vault, sophomore Christine Moser — a regional qualifier as a freshman — returns. Junior high jumper Dasia Cole — also a regional qualifier a year ago — returns. She’ll be joined in the high jump by sophomore Valena Robinson. In the long jump, the Trojans return senior Lauren Freed — who just missed qualifying for regionals last year, despite never long jumping before in her life — and junior Kayla Hemm.
“We should be strong in the field events,” Snyder said. “Our throwers have looked really good — Coach (Aaron) Gibbons does a great job working with them. Really, we should be strong in all of our field events. We’ve got almost everybody back from last year.”
Even in the sprints — where the Trojans did lose Huffman — there’s plenty of depth. Three-fourths of Troy’s state-qualifying 4×100 team — Walters and juniors Ashley Barr and Celina Courts — return. Hemm and seniors Hana Green and Jordan Hoffman give the Trojans added depth in the sprints. In the hurdles, juniors Caitlyn Cusick and Haylee Wright both return.
“Gracie graduated, but so did a lot of the other top sprinters in the conference,” Snyder said. “Walters and Barr actually have two of the top three returning times in the North. We’ve got a lot of talent returning — we just need to find a couple of more athletes.”
If Snyder can do that, it should add up to continued success for the Trojans.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong