By Josh Brown
TROY — Last year, when it won its fifth straight Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division title, the Troy girls track and field team made shirts that said “Trojans run the North” — with the letter “s” in the word Trojans replaced by the number 5.
Which was why girls coach Kurt Snyder had a roll of red tape handy Friday night.
“If we win, we’ll put a little tape on the 5s and turn them into 6s,” he said, adding, “I already fixed my shirt. I’m just waiting until it becomes official.”
Both he and Troy boys coach Deon Metz needn’t have worried about that, though. Entering Friday’s GWOC All-Star meet at Troy High School, there were only two events left to be scored for the divisional standings — the 800 and 3,200, where some of both team’s stronger competitors are in Stephen Jones and Morgan Gigandet. And both did as expected on Friday night, clinching division titles for their respective teams as the Trojan girls won the North 172-131.5 over Butler and the boys completed the sweep by defeating Trotwood 159-138.5.
Gigandet wrapped things up first for the girls, winning the 800 in a school-record time of 2:17.71. She followed that by defeating the entire field in the 3,200 in 10:42.99 — bettering her own school record once again in that event — with teammate Emma Shigley finishing second in the division standings in 11:30.97.
While there was only the smallest mathematical chance that Butler could catch the Troy girls entering the final two events Friday, the Trojan boys held a much slimmer lead over Trotwood. Jones widened that gap by winning the North in the 800 in 1:55.89 — a new school record —and adding two more points. He then crushed his own North Division meet record in the 3,200, winning in 9:16.94 — he set the meet record last year with a 9:25.04 — to ice the team win.
Neither runner was nervous with their team’s chances resting on their shoulders.
“There’s a little more pressure with that, sure,” Jones said. “You don’t want to let down the team, the coaches, the school — especially with the meet being held on our home course. There’s more pressure than normal, but I still just go out and run. I really didn’t expect to do that in the 800. That’s not my race by any measure. That’s more of a (graduate) Troy Schultz race.
“It feels good to be able to win the North one last time, especially with it being at home. Our goal today was to go out and get points for the North and maintain our lead. It feels good to be able to do that.”
“No, not really. I just go out and run,” Gigandet said. “It just feels really good to have been able to do something like that (seal the team win). Now I just want to beat my two-mile time, get the 4×800 relay team to state and then hopefully, maybe, I can win state in the two-mile.”
And as for the All-Star meet, the Trojans finished second overall in the GWOC with 83 points — the best finish in the school’s history.
“It’s funny. We graduate a runner like Gracie Huffman, and everyone else is thinking that they’ll be able to get some points back in the sprints with her gone,” Snyder said. “But then we go one-two in the 100, one-two in the 200 and one-three in the 400. That’s just a testament to the work ethic these girls have. They’re not ready to let anyone else take the title yet.
“After the slow start Wednesday, this feels really good. We have a resilient group of girls. If something doesn’t go right, they don’t let it bother them. If someone has an off night, someone else picks them up.”
The North division win for Troy’s boys was their fourth in the last five years. Last season, Trotwood edged them out by a slim margin. The boys were also fourth overall in the GWOC with 52 points after Friday’s All-Star meet.
“After that all-star performance by Stephen in the 800, we were in good shape,” Metz said. “When you get in these tight meets like this, though, you never know how things will go. Anything can happen, but we felt confident after that.
“All year, we talked about how we failed miserably last year in the field events. We didn’t get any points in the jumps or throws, and you can’t do that and win the league. That was our focus this year.”
The Trojans kept scoring in the field events at the All-Star meet, as well. Travis Hall was sixth in the shot put (48-6), Jayden Culp-Bishop was seventh in the long jump (19-6.25), Luke Robinson was seventh in the high jump (5-10), Joey Dippold was seventh in the pole vault (12-0) and Kameron Block was eighth in the discus (132-6).
Other than Jones’ performance, the highlight of the night Friday for the boys was Zach Boyer in the 110 hurdles. He finished third originally, but another competitor falling and causing an obstruction gave he and a few other runners the option to re-run the race and take their new time. Boyer opted to run again — and moved up to second with a time of 14.94 seconds.
The 4×200 relay of Hayata Nagata, Kobe Feltner, DeMarcus Moody and Culp-Bishop was fourth (1:32.5), as was the 4×400 relay of Feltner, Nagata, Timmy Farrier and Austin Jacobs (3:29.19). Culp-Bishop added a sixth-place finish in the 200 (22.97 seconds).
“We made that move, taking Jayden off the 4×100 and putting him in the long jump,” Metz said. “We knew Trotwood would sweep the relays, but we figured we could make the points up there if we could get our relays to keep pace and finish second. And that’s what they did Wednesday.”
Christine Moser joined Gigandet in leading the Trojan girls Friday, winning the GWOC in the pole vault with a personal-best 11-0. And Kelsey Walters — who broke her own school record in the shot put on Wednesday — was second (40-6.75) and Alaura Holycross was third (37-3.75). The 4×200 team of Walters, Ashley Barr, Celina Courts and Annah Stanley was third (1:47.31), Barr was third in the 400 (59.25 seconds) and Caitlyn Cusick was third in the 300 hurdles (47.62 seconds).
Barr was also seventh in the 200 (27.11 seconds) and Courts was eighth (27.83 seconds), the 4×400 team of Hana Green, Lily Clouser, Ciena Miller and Olivia Tyre was seventh (4:17.23) and Courts was eighth in the 100 (12.95 seconds).
But what will Snyder and company do next year when they can’t just use tape to turn the 6s into 7s on their shirts?
“That’s a good question,” he said with a smile. “It’s just nice that we’ll have a lot of these kids back. Plus it’ll be a new GWOC with Tippecanoe coming in. New teams, a new task.
“We’ll just have to get creative.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.