By David Fong
HUBER HEIGHTS — Lenea Browder was happy to be going to state, no doubt, but she didn’t want to go alone.
“It wouldn’t have been the same,” said Browder, a sophomore shot putter on the Troy girls track and field team. “It would not have been the same without my partner. She’s my friend. She’s my family.”
With her spot at state already secure, Browder watched senior teammate Alaura Holycross punch her ticket to state on her penultimate throw of the Division I regional track and field championships Wednesday at Wayne High School. Competition will continue Friday.
“It’s going to be a little bittersweet, because state will be my last time throwing with her,” Holycross said of Browder. “We’ve grown pretty close the past two years. But I am excited we get to go together. The last time I’ll get to throw with her will be at state. That’s better than the last time I throw with her to be today.”
After fouling on her first attempt of the day, Browder would launch a throw of 42-9, then followed that up with a 43-0.75. That second mark would stand for Browder through the finals, as she would end up in second place behind Mason senior Amaya King.
For Holycross, the road was a little bumpier. She was in fifth place after the preliminary throws, once place away from going to state. On her second-to-last throw in the finals, however, she ripped a 40-0.5, good enough for fourth place by almost 2 feet.
“(Troy head coach Kurt) Snyder has been a big inspiration for me,” Holycross said. “I wanted to do well for him.”
Wednesday marked the first time Holycross has hit the 40-foot mark this season. Last year, she hit 40-feet for the first time at regionals as well, earning a trip to state.
“She’s a competitor,” Troy throwing coach Aaron Gibbons said. “She dug down when she needed it most. I’m so happy for her.”
For Browder, placing second and earning a trip to state was sweet redemption from her performance in the shot put at regionals a year ago.
Last year at regionals, Browder was one of the top seeds in the event — having won a regional title in the discus two days prior — but had an off day and failed to make it to state in the shot put.
“This feels way better than last year,” she said. “I wanted it so much more than last year. This means so much to me. This is my life now.”’
Gibbons said getting to state in the shot put was as much mental as it was physical for Browder.
“We had some deep wounds from last year we needed to clean up,” Gibbons said. “Now that we’ve done that, all of that is in the past and we can move forward.”
Browder said she hopes to take that confidence with her to state. She admits she was intimidated being a freshman competing in the discus last year. She still managed to finish ninth, one spot away from being on the podium.
“Last year, competing against all of those seniors just got to me,” she said. “I was super scared. I was looking around and thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ I think going last year helped me. I know what to expect and won’t be as nervous.”
In addition to the shot put, Troy athletes competed in the finals in two other events Wednesday, as well.
In the high jump, Troy freshman Hallie Westmeyer placed 13th with a jump of 4-10. Fellow freshman Bailey Brogan also competed in the high jump for the Trojans.
In the 4×800, Troy’s team of senior Megan Myers, juniors Kate Pence and Olivia Tyre and freshman Dinah Gigandet placed 12th in 10:22.39.
The Troy girls failed to qualify for the finals in any of the preliminary events in which they ran Wednesday.
In the 100 hurdles, junior Jessica Goodwin was 11th in 17.01 seconds. Senior Camryn Moeller was 13th in the 200 (26.82 seconds). In the 400, freshman Brennah Hutchinson was 13th (1:02.24), while sophomore Katie Lord was 16th (1:03.65).
The 4×200 relay team of Laura Borchers, Camryn Moeller, Lord and Hutchinson were 10th in 1:46.44. The 4×100 relay team of Annah Stanley, Moeller, Evelyn Plunkett and Borchers finished 13th in 51.02 seconds. The 4×400 relay team of Hutchinson, Borchers, Lord and Ciena Miller was 14th (4:11.86).
Girls competing Friday
Several more Troy girls will compete in finals Friday with an eye on earning a trip to the state meet.
In the 3,200, both three-time state placer Morgan Gigandet and Pence will be competing for the Trojans. Tyre and Dinah Gigandet both will be running in the 1,600. Christine Moser — a state qualifier last year — and Lilli Cusick will be in the pole vault. Browder and Kylee Brooks both will be throwing the discus. Moeller will be in the long jump.
Trojan junior Spencer Klopfenstein was the lone Trojan competing in the finals of an event Wednesday. He placed 12th in the discus with a throw of 130-6.
The Troy boys ran in a pair of relay events Wednesday and were unable to make the finals in either relay. The 4×200 relay team of Jaydon Culp-Bishop, Kobe Feltner, Caillou Monroe and Noah Young just missed a spot in Friday’s finals by a fraction of a second, placing ninth in 1:31.43. Those same four ran the 4×100, placing 13th in 44.21 seconds.
Boys competing Friday
Junior Nick Mittelstadt and sophomore Tucker Raskay both will be competing in the high jump Friday. Senior Andy Smith will be running the 3,200. Klopfenstein will be throwing the shot put Friday.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong