By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
TROY — When the final scores came in for the Herb Hartman Invitational Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium, Kurt Snyder couldn’t help but let a grin peek out from behind his stubbly visage.
It wasn’t a self-satisfied, “We just won it all” grin.
It was, however, a knowing, “You ain’t seen nothing yet” grin.
For while the Troy girls track and field team may have fell just 1.5 points short of beating out Beavercreek for a second straight Herb Hartman Invitational trophy, the Troy girls coach knows his team is exactly where it needs to be. Yes, Beavercreek won the team title with 110 points to Troy’s 108.5 points — but Snyder also knows his team was without four of its key performers Friday.
If and when the Trojans can get to full strength, Snyder said, they stand to be a force to be reckoned with by the end of the season.
“Honestly, with the teams that were here at this meet and with some of the kids we were missing, we probably shouldn’t even have been in the hunt for the team title,” Snyder said. “Beavercreek won the overall (Greater Western Ohio Conference) title last year, got everybody back and brought almost everybody here. Wayne brought their loaded team. I told the girls this was going to be one of our toughest tests all season.
“I think it’s a testament to our program that a lot of good schools want to come to this meet and run against our team. We had (Toledo) Notre Dame Academy come all the way down here because they wanted to compete in this meet. I’m so proud of our girls and the way they came out and competed. I couldn’t have asked any more from them. I’m happy. We didn’t win, but I’m happy because of the way our girls competed.”
Even missing some of its key competitors, Troy was able to rely in its depth to make a run at the team title. Troy won just one event and placed second in only three events, but was able to double — and, in some cases, triple — place in multiple events to rack up plenty of points.
Leading the way for the Trojans was freshman Hannah Falknor, who won the 200 in 26.15 seconds.
“We had a lot of kids step up,” Snyder said. “Hannah Falknor beat a loaded 200 race.”
Fellow freshman Sophie Fong was Troy’s only individual event runner-up, placing second in the pole vault with a jump of 10-0. Also placing in the top four in the event was senior Lilli Cusick, who took fourth with a vault of 9-6.
Freshman Emma Kennett placed in the top four in a pair of events for the Trojans, taking third in both the 1,600 (5:29.90) and 800 (2:30.62). Senior Olivia Tyre placed fourth in the 1,600. Placing third in the 2,000 steeplechase — always one of the crowd’s favorite events — was junior Adrianna Burghardt (9:15).
Senior Jessica Goodwin was third in the 100 hurdles (16.40). Senior Annah Stanley was fourth in the long jump (15-8.5), sophomore Dinah Gigandet was fourth in the 3,200 (11:52.46) and sophomore Kathryn Cade was fourth in the discus with a throw of 97-6.
“With us running a split squad, we had a lot of kids who performed well and showed they are still fighting for varsity spots,” Snyder said. “I’m extremely happy with our kids. I know a lot of our kids were disappointed we finished second, but hopefully this will serve as motivation for some of our kids. We know we are going to have to compete with Beavercreek, Wayne and Centerville at the GWOC meet, and I think Butler and Tippecanoe also proved they have some good athletes we are going to have to contend with.”
Troy also scored major points in the relays, placing in the top four in three of them. The 4×800 relay team of Tyre, Gigandet, Katie Castaneda and Hannah Markeson took second (10:24.97), as did the 4×200 team of Stanley, Laura Borchers and Kiersten Franklin (1:47.97). The 4×100 team of Stanley, Borchers, Evelyn Plunkett and Goodwin took third in 52.30 seconds.
“I was very happy with our relays,” Snyder said. “We had some kids missing, but we also had some kids who had never run some of those events step up. We had some girls show they are still fighting for varsity spots. I told the girls after the meet, ‘Losing is not fatal and winning is not final.’ We still have a long way to go.”
The Tippecanoe girls track and field team placed ninth with 28 points. Leading the way for the Red Devils was senior Lauren Robbins, who won the shot put with a throw of 34-11.5. Senior Katie Taylor placed third in the 3,200 (11:37.10), while sophomore Mackenzie Dix was fourth in the 800 (2:31.07).
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong.