By David Fong
HEBRON — One thing kept running through Olivia Tyre’s mind.
“I talked to some of my friends this morning, and they just said, ‘Last one, fast one.’ That’s something we always say when we are training,” the Troy High School senior cross country runner said. “I just kept thinking about that all day. This was my last race. I wanted to come out and make it a fast one.”
Tyre did just that, finishing off her stellar career by placing 13th in 18:49.9 at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I state cross country meet Saturday at National Trail Raceway. Tyre ends her career as a Trojan as one of the five fastest runners in school history,was a four-time state qualifier and a two-time All-Ohio honoree. In addition to earning All-Ohio honors Saturday, she placed 18th as a sophomore.
“My sophomore year was my best year, and as soon as that race was over, I knew I wanted to do better,” said Tyre, whose junior season with slowed by a battle with anemia. “During the race, I heard my coach tell me I was in 15th place. That was when I started to think I could actually do it.”
Tyre has been coming on strong the past month, running her best meets at districts and regionals, while peaking just in time for the state meet.
“Honestly, I realized I had worked as hard as I could, and whatever happened after that was God’s plan,” Tyre said. “I just gave it to Him, and whatever happened, happened. Right before districts, things just started clicking for me. I hope I leave behind a good legacy — not so much as a runner, but as a good teammate. I remember when I was a freshman, I really looked up to the seniors, and they were all so nice to me. I hope I was the same way with my teammates.”
Tyre was not alone in her final trip to state, as she was joined by sophomore Dinah Gigandet and freshman Emma Kennett. Gigandet finished 41st in 19:27.5, while Kennett finished 42nd in 19:29.
It was Gigandet’s second trip to state, having earned a spot when Troy qualified as a team last year.
“It was good,” Gigandet said. “I got boxed in a little at the start, but other than that, it was a good race. I had a lot of energy at the end, but oh well. Going as an individual, I had a lot higher standard for myself than I did last year when I just went with the team. I was pretty happy with how I did.”
Kennett said she wasn’t feeling well during the race, but viewed her first trip to state as a valuable learning experience.
“The course was pretty fun, but I just didn’t feel my best,” Kennett said. “I just tried to push through it. I was really nervous before the race — probably the most nervous I’ve ever felt before a race. But I learned a lot, like not to go wide the whole time.”
Troy coach Kevin Alexander said with a pair of top-flight runners returning next season, he’s hoping to get an entire team back to state, something the Trojans had done the previous three years.
“This is an open call to any girl at Troy High School who wants to come out and compete at the highest level,” Alexander said. “We want to be able to bring the whole team here again next year. That’s something that Dinah and Emma were already talking about for next year. Bringing three individuals is great, but it’s not the same as bringing the whole team. That’s our goal for next year.”
Division III Boys
It was a banner morning for the Troy Christian cross country team, as junior Robert Ventura became the first Eagle runner to compete at the state meet in a number of years, while Troy Christian coach Jeff McDaniel was recognized by the OHSAA with its Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.
Ventura finished 45th in 17:28.8.
“I thought I did pretty good,” Ventura said. “The mud really slowed things down. But it was amazing being able to represent my school since we haven’t been here in such a long time.”
Ventura said he had expected to compete last week — the race was delayed one week due to heavy flooding at National Trail Raceway — and struggled with the adjustment.
“I hated it,” he said. “I wanted to taper the first week. It was tough practicing.”
McDaniel, in his 17th year as the Eagles’ coach, was selected by his fellow cross country coaches as the recipient of the OHSAA Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.
“Last year when they called and said I’d been nominated … it’s a real honor,” McDaniel said. “Just being rewarded for what I’d like to think all of us coaches do. This is my 17th year, and we had one guy here today — which is awesome. It’s quite an honor.”
Division III Girls
The Bradford girls finished 11th out of 20 team with 299 points.
Leading the way for the Railroaders was Karmen Knepp, who finished 28th in 20:13.2. Skipp Miller was 64th in 21:00.2. Austy Miller was 81st in 21:23.7. Olivia Daugherty was 120th in 22:10.1. Mercedes Smith was 153rd in 23:17.8. Alexis Barhorst was 172nd in 24:47.5 and Jenna Shellabarger was 177th in 25:19.3.