By David Fong
and Josh Brown
COLUMBUS — She chased history … and caught it.
She faced the competition … and vanquished it.
And after all of that, perhaps not surprisingly, she looked toward her future … and smiled at it.
“I’m not done yet,” Troy girls track and field sophomore sensation Lenea Browder said after capturing a state title in the discus and placing second in the shot put Saturday at the Division I track and field championships at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus. “This is just the beginning. There’s a lot more I want to do. I want to keep working hard and getting better. There’s so much more I want to do.”
What she’s already done is as impressive as just about any athlete in Troy history.
Browder started off her day by becoming the first female athlete in Troy High School history to capture a track and field state championship, winning the discus with a throw of 145-2. She opened the competition with a 141-11, which would have stood up even if she hadn’t bettered that mark in the finals. Carrollton junior Alivia Bentley would finish second with a throw of 137-7.
“I was happy when I threw 141, but I knew there were other people who could throw that,” Browder said. “I didn’t want anyone to catch me. But it was kind of a relief to get that first throw out of the way and have it be a good one. That took a lot of the pressure off of me.”
When everyone else in the competition failed to catch her, Browder’s state title and spot in history was secure.
“That’s really crazy; I had no idea I was making history,” she said.
Troy throwing coach Aaron Gibbons said Browder’s success came as a result of her hard work and dedication.
“I’m so happy for her, because of all the hard work and training she’s put into this,” he said. “It’s one thing to have great athletic ability, it’s another thing to be able to do something with it. Lenea has completely bought in to what we want her to do. In addition to being arguably the best athlete in the school, she’s also one of the hardest workers. It’s great to see that pay off for her.”
Browder nearly doubled down on history just a few hours later when she took second in the shot put with a throw of 45-9.75. She uncorked that mark on her third throw of the day, and it looked like it was going to stand up until Bentley passed it with her final throw.
Still, though, Browder realized placing first and second at state — particularly as a sophomore — were accomplishments in which she could take great pride.
“I’m so happy I achieved my goals,” she said. “I had set goals before the season started, but then I accomplished them much earlier in the season than I thought I would. I think that’s when I started believing I could come over here and do this at state. That’s when I started thinking about possibly winning a state title.”
With two more years left in high school, Gibbons agreed it’s only the beginning … at Troy and beyond.
“I think Lenea has a higher purpose than goes beyond high school,” he said. “She has some pretty big goals. She’s just got to keep working toward those goals. If she does, the sky is the limit for her. Her future is bright.”
Certainly enough to warrant a smile.
Moser Places 4th
The week of the state track and field meet was gut check time for Troy senior pole vaulter Christine Moser.
After contracting a case of food poisoning following last week’s regional meet, Moser was barely able to practice leading up to the state meet, but still managed to push through all of that and finish off her career by placing fourth at state with a vault of 11-6.
“I’m 9 pounds lighter than I was before,” Moser said. “I felt like I was going to pass out all day. I wasn’t able to get in a good practice all week. I never did a full run on a big pole.”
Moser, who will jump at Wright State University next year, said she’s happy to end her career on the podium at state.
“I’m happy,” she said. “I wanted to do better, but I did the best I could under the circumstances. I had a handful of incredible coaches who helped get me here.”
Gigandet’s run ends
It wasn’t exactly the way Morgan Gigandet had hoped to end her star-studded career at Troy, but when looking at the entirety of what she accomplished, the recent Troy graduate is leaving with her head held high.
“I’m proud of my career, especially with what I did in cross country,” Gigandet said.
Gigandet finished 15th in the 3,200 (11:06.73) Saturday, but that doesn’t do her career at Troy justice. The state cross country champion had been battling a hip injury that left her hobbled all season.
“I felt something at the track meet in West Milton, and it just got worse from there,” Gigandet said. “I was fine for cross country, but I really got in two good training races all season for track.”
Still, in addition to leaving as the only state cross country champion in school history, she also was a three-time state placer in cross country and a three-time state placer in the 3,200. She’ll run at Iowa State University next year.
“I’m ready for college,” she said. “I’m looking forward to a full season of being healthy.”
Holycross Finishes 12th
Senior Alaura Holycross finished a stellar career as a Trojan Saturday, finishing 12th in the shot put with a throw of 37-6.25.
Her emotion, however, was reserved for her teammate and throwing partner Browder.
Holycross — who advanced to the finals as a junior and finished ninth — threw in the first flight Saturday, scoring her mark on her second throw. Her third was a foul that might have gotten her to the finals, ending her day of competition early.
“I felt good, but my throws were coming in a little bad, so I think my confidence went down,” Holycross said. “I think I was overthinking things a little too much, and that last throw — I definitely would have been in the finals if that stayed in. But you know, everything happens for a reason, and I’m about to start college. I’ve just got to build from this.”
While Browder was throwing in the second flight and finals, though, Holycross was a one-person cheering section, almost single-handedly matching the volume of Mason’s Amaya King’s horde of followers as she rooted Browder to her second-place finish.
“I try to be there her as much as I can because she’s very young, but …” she said, breaking down. “She’s also my best friend, too, and seeing her do so well, it makes me so happy. I’m just proud of how far she’s come.
“I wish I could stay two more years just so I can see her keep being who she is and how good she is. I love being there for her and how we’re there for each other no matter what.”
Troy junior Nick Mittelstadt was the lone representative of the Troy boys track and field team competing at state. He cleared the opening height of 6-0 in the high jump, good for 16th place.