By Josh Brown
TROY — When last year’s Senior Night meet, the Herb Hartman Invitational, was cancelled soon after it got underway, Troy’s Alaura Holycross was frustrated.
Now a senior herself, and with the Senior Night meet switched to the season-opening Up and Running Invitational, Holycross had a different take as the meet’s date approached.
“I was happy that they switched the meet,” she said with a laugh. “We were supposed to have it on Saturday, and he changed it to Wednesday because the weather conditions were going to be better. I wanted it to get cancelled that day (Saturday). I was definitely hoping they’d move it.”
The Trojans, who have seen their Senior Night meet cancelled two seasons in a row, got to compete at Troy Memorial Stadium in Wednesday night’s Up and Running Invitational, with the Troy girls team winning with 185 points and the boys finishing fifth with 64 points. Milton-Union’s boys finished third (83.5 points) behind champion Butler (96) and runner-up Northmont (84).
One Troy senior that came into the meet strong was Morgan Gigandet, a freshly-minted state champion from cross country season. Gigandet coasted to a win in the 1,600 (5:16.84) and finished second in the 800 (2:26.71) to Butler’s Abbie Schoenherr (2:21.73).
“Yeah, I’m definitely more confident,” Gigandet said. “Just knowing that I’ve accomplished that already (the state cross country championship), I know I can accomplish a lot more. It’s just extra motivation to do better.”
And even though it’s still early in track season, Gigandet knows her best races are still to come.
“I didn’t feel like I was pushing it tonight,” she said. “It felt like a workout, but that’s kind of all it was. You don’t want to PR the first meet — you want to PR at state.
“My goal is to PR in the two-mile this season. That’s one of my top goals. And I just also want to do really well at state.”
Holycross and sophomore teammate Lenea Browder — both returning state qualifiers from last season — faced state-level competition right away, taking on Milton-Union’s Beyonce Bobbitt, a three-time state qualifier herself. In the shot put, Browder won (37-11.5) and Holycross was second (37-8.5), with Bobbitt finishing third (36-3.5).
Granted, the duo faces state-level competition every day they practice together.
“I think it’s good always throwing with someone as good as you,” Holycross said. “It’s a constant battle that we get to compete together. It’s like, you don’t get to relax. You’ve got to throw your best all the time.”
“And also, we’re partners,” Browder said. “It’s not just competing. We’re actual friends, and we work together and we encourage each other. That’s the good part about it. That’s what makes track fun — we’re just like a family.”
Browder also added a second-place finish in the discus (121-9), with senior Kylee Brooks finishing third (99-5).
Also finishing in the top four for Troy’s girls, senior Camryn Moeller set a new meet record in the long jump and won (17-3.5) and was third in the 200 (27.46 seconds). Senior Christine Moser won the pole vault (11-0) and Lilli Cusick was second (9-0). Jessica Goodwin won the high jump (4-10) and was second in the 100 hurdles (16.97 seconds). Olivia Tyre won the 3,200 (12:50.23) and freshman Dinah Gigandet was third (13:19.28). Makayla Kindell was second in the 300 hurdles (55.12 seconds) and Breann Stith was fourth (55.73 seconds). Annah Stanley was third in the long jump (15-5.5) and Maggie Welker was fourth (13-10.25). Freshman Hallie Westmeyer was second in the high jump (4-10) and fellow freshman Bailey Brogan was fourth (4-8).
Milton-Union’s boys, who will look to be a contender at this year’s Miami County meet after finishing third behind winner Miami East and runner-up Troy last season, led by 11.5 points with only two events to go, 77.5-67 over Butler. But the Aviators went two-three-four in the 3,200 to take an 86-77.5 lead with only the shot put to be scored, and Butler’s victory there sealed the team win.
For the Bulldog boys, Robbie Grove won the 100 (11.72 seconds). Sam Motz was second in the 110 hurdles (16.75 seconds) and Alex Moore was fourth (18.09 seconds), with Motz adding a third-place finish in the shot put (42-9). Shannon Milnickel was second in the 1,600 (4:38.51) and third in the 800 (2:07.72). Trevor Grile was second in the discus (125-10) and second in the pole vault (10-0), with Josh Black finishing third in the pole vault (9-6). Dalton Hetzler was third in the long jump (18-10).
Troy’s boys team is incredibly young this season, but it still has the leading scorer from last year’s team back in Jaydon Culp-Bishop. But the junior struggled Wednesday night, finishing fourth in the 100 (11.96 seconds) — an event he wasn’t slated to run in going into the night — and not even placing in the 400.
“It certainly wasn’t my best 100,” Culp-Bishop said. “I can improve. My technique and form were horrible tonight. But I’m confident coach (Deon Metz) can get me there, knowing that he’s great with technique because he’s been there.”
And Culp-Bishop knows that he’ll have to get there, too, as the team will be counting on him throughout the season.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” he said. “It’s going to be hard trying to be a leader this year, but I feel like the team will be good this year.”
Also for Troy’s boys, Nick Mittelstadt won the high jump (6-0) and Tucker Raskay was second (5-10), with Lucas Hensley from the Trojans’ ‘B’ team finishing third (5-8). Spencer Klopfenstein won the discus (127-11) and Jesse Westmeyer was fourth (123-0). Klopfenstein was also second in the shot put (46-4) and Westmeyer was fourth (38-8). Andy Smith had the best finish of Troy’s boys’ seniors, finishing fifth in the 1,600 (5:01.15).
Milton-Union’s girls finished sixth with 27.5 points. In addition to Bobbitt’s finish in the shot put, Emily Hornberger was third in the pole vault (8-0) as the Bulldogs’ other top-four finisher.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.