By David Fong
TROY — Olivia Tyre knew going in she was running her final race on her home course.
She wanted to make sure it wasn’t her last race, period.
“I knew it was going to be my last time racing here and it may be my last race ever — so I just wanted to go for it,” said Tyre, a senior on the Troy girls cross country team. “I prayed before the race and I just felt super calm.”
In her final cross country race in Troy, Tyre earned her fourth career trip to next week’s state cross country meet by running one of the best races of her career, placing ninth in the Division I race in 18:32. Her career-best time is 18:24. She’ll be joined at state by teammates Emma Kennett and Dinah Gigandet, both of whom also qualified individually by placing in the top 24.
“It was a goal of mine to qualify individually,” said Tyre, who earned All-Ohio sophomores as a sophomore when the Trojans qualified as a team. All three of her previous trips to state have been as a member of the Troy team. “Ultimately, I wanted to go as a team, but I knew if that couldn’t happen, I wanted to be able to go as an individual. This means a lot to me.”
Kennett, a freshman, finished 11th in 18:41.
“I wasn’t feeling my best today — I couldn’t move my arms very fast,” Kennett said. “But I’m really happy I’m going to state. I’m really excited. Going to state was my goal from the beginning of the year, but I wasn’t sure if it was realistic as a freshman.”
Gigandet, a sophomore, will be making her second trip to state after placing 16th in 18:55.
“This is awesome,” she said. “It’s so awesome. It makes me feel better about all the hard work I did to get to this spot.”
Troy finished eighth as a team with 236 points. Katie Castaneda was 99th (20:50), Renee Kovacs was 126th (21:54.5), Ella Kirkpatrick was 127th (22:07) and Hannah Markeson was 132nd (22:36).
Division II Girls
It’s been an incredible run for five Tippecanoe seniors, all of whom have been competing on varsity since they were freshmen.
It seemed only right they should all end their careers together at the state meet. And that’s exactly what will happen after the Red Devils placed second in the Division II regional meet with 75 points. Bellbrook won the race with 57 points.
In the past four years, Tippecanoe has now been a regional runner-up twice and won two regional titles. The Red Devils also have placed second, third and third as a team at state.
“These girls deserved to finish at state,” Tippecanoe coach Byron Kimmel said. “They will leave behind a good legacy that will be hard to match. We’ve got more talent coming, but it will be hard to match them in terms of accomplishments and depth. It’s been a great blessing to be able to coach them.”
Leading the way for Tippecanoe was Katie Taylor, who finished seventh in 19:29. Mackenzie Dix was 14th (19:51), Kaili Titley was 17th (20:06), Stephanie Fink was 29th (20:27), Tori Prenger was 35th (20:55), Jillian Brown was 44th (21:09) and Annie Martino was 51st (21:21).
“I’m so happy for our kids,” Kimmel said. “They’ve been working hard all year to get to this point.”
Division III Girls
Bradford placed third with 120 points, good enough to earn a team berth to state.
Leading the way for the Railroaders was Skipp Miller, who placed sixth in 20:01. Karmen Knepp was ninth (20:07). Austy Miller was 17th (20:21), Olivia Daugherty was 44th (21:52), Mercedes Smith was 67th (22:48), Jenna Shellabarger was 79th (24:00) and Alexis Barhorst was 84th (24:30).
Covington placed ninth with 189 points. Paige Boehringer was 23rd (20:46), Ashlyn Plessinger was 35th (21:26), Chelsea Ford was 47th (22:03), Alexis Meyer was 63rd (22:30), Allie Garman was 64th (22:37), Halli-Jo Taxis was 90th (25:51) and Yelena Weaver was 95th (33:26).
Miami East’s Kiley Davie placed 21st (20:40). Bethel’s Kaitlyn Balkcom placed 36th (21:28).
Division I Boys
Troy had a pair of runners competing in Saturday’s regional meet.
Braden Coate placed 43rd (16:46) and Josh Lovitt placed 59th (16:57).
“Josh and Braden saved their best races of the season for today,” Troy boys coach Phil Matthews said. “The sophomore and freshman raced out of their minds today. Josh broke 17 minutes for the first time and Braden had his strongest race of the year. They both ran a hard bit smart first mile and then ran down the competition in the last two miles of the race. They’re really happy to end the season on such a high not and are ready to be back next year.”
Division II Boys
After a two-year absence, the Tippecanoe boys cross country team is returning to state.
Tippecanoe finished second with 112 points, while Springfield Shawnee won the regional title with 92 points. Tippecanoe went to state for three years in a row beginning in 2015, placing second, first and second at state during that stretch.
“It’s about time,” Kimmel said with a smile. “I’m ecstatic. This is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. All of our kids performed well. They were clutch today. It feels good to be going back.”
Leading the way for the Red Devils was Bryce Conley, who placed second individually in 16:19.
“It feels good,” he said. “It was a huge goal of mine to get back to state. This will be my third year. My freshman year, I got to the front early, got tripped and fell back. I ended up tripping three times. Last year, I wasn’t aggressive enough. This year, I hope to do better.”
Also for Tippecanoe, Trenton Brown was 29th (17:10), Ethan Heitkamp was 32nd (17:12), Austin Rogers was 33rd (17:15), Brady Shilt was 44th (17:26), Allan Murray was 53rd (17:42) and Brennan Larned was 61st (18:01).
“I’m so happy for these guys,” Kimmel said. “Their hard work paid off.”
Division III Boys
Troy Christian’s Robert Ventura had to battle to the very end, but placed 16th in the Division III meet in 16:52, good enough for the final state berth.
“It feels really good to see how the training I put in turned into something good,” he said. “I knew I was in 13th or 14th, but I didn’t know how close the guys behind me were. I was not expecting it to be that fast at the end. I’m happy to be going to state. I’m going to enjoy it.”
Bethel placed 11th as a team with 278 points. Trent Schweikhardt was 46th (17:59), Cole Brannan was 52nd (18:05), Colton Smith was 78th (19:19), Nathan Patton was 81st (19:21), Wyatt Leet was 84th (19:34), Keaton Smith was 95th (20:18) and Gerone St. Ana was 99th (20:49).
Newton’s Ben Hoover placed 18th (16:59). Troy Christian’s Nick Pratt placed 28th (17:31). Covington’s Bennett Welborn placed 35th (17:45).
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong