By David Fong
Miami Valley Sunday News
TROY — The T-shirts will eventually become frayed and tattered, and the history books will become faded and dusty.
But both will tell a story that will live forever.
Shortly after his Troy team had captured an overall Greater Western Ohio Conference girls track and field championship, coach Kurt Snyder gathered together his athletes and told them his plan for their championship shirts, which will read: “They are changing the GWOC to the GOC, because we took that W.”
Indeed they did.
“I am kind of speechless,” Snyder said. “It feels good. These kids are special. This is what we’ve been working for all season. This was the perfect ending for our kids to be able to run on this track one final time in this conference and for us to be able to do what we did. Our kids competed so hard. They had a goal, and they worked hard to achieve it.”
Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium, Troy, along with fellow Miami County schools Piqua and Tippecanoe, saw their time in the GWOC come to an end, as all three will be competing next season in the 10-team Miami Valley League. On its way out, the Troy girls track and field team — as Snyder’s cheeky T-shirt would imply — will be leaving with the overall GWOC trophy, having finished Friday’s competition with 105 team points.
Troy was able to finish ahead of all 19 other schools — many of which are double or triple Troy’s enrollment size — including defending champion Beavercreek, which was second with 89 points. Springboro was third with 68 points. Piqua finished with 19 points, while Tippecanoe had six points.
“When I first started coaching here, we were in the bottom half of the conference,” Snyder said. “It wasn’t easy competing against teams like Centerville and Beavercreek, which have three times as many kids as we do. But we have 85 girls who came out for our team because they wanted to be a part of something special. Being in this conference has made us work harder, and it has made us a better program. We know we had to work hard to get where those programs are.
“We have kids who work hard, and I have assistant coaches who do the same. It’s not just me. I don’t give my assistant coaches enough credit. They do an amazing job with these kids. And we also have a great feeder program at the junior high because of the great job our junior high coaches do down there.”
Troy relied on its incredible depth to topple Beavercreek, which scored massive points in the distance races but couldn’t keep up with the Trojans across the board. Troy had just four event champions but placed in all 17 events, including placing two competitors in five events.
“This was absolutely a team effort,” Snyder said. “To have a kid place in every event is pretty unheard of. Every single kid who competed can say she contributed to this trophy.”
Leading the way was junior Lenea Browder, who won both the shot put and discus, while setting meet records in both events. She won the shot put with a throw of 44-9 and the discus with a throw of 152-1. For Browder, the victories were particularly sweet not only because she’ll leave the GWOC with both meet records, but also because early in the season she wasn’t able to compete in the Herb Hartman Invitational, a meet that saw Beavercreek edge Troy by 1.5 points on its home turf.
“It was very important for me to get the records in both events,” Browder said. “This was our last time competing in this conference, and I definitely wanted to stamp my name in the record books forever. I wanted to leave with the league records in everything. Ever since the Herb Hartman Invitational, we’ve wanted to show everyone why we are the best team in the GWOC. That meet was very hard for me because I knew if I had competed, I would have been able to make a difference. I definitely wanted to come out for the GWOC meet and make a difference.”
Troy’s other other individual champion was freshman Hannah Falknor, who won the 200 in 25.73 seconds. She also teamed up with Annah Stanley, Brennah Hutchinson and Kiersten Franklin to win the 4×200 (1:44.41) and placed fifth in the 400 (1:00.50). It was an impressive performance for an athlete competing in her first GWOC meet.
“I was really nervous, but I knew I had my friends and family here supporting me,” Falknor said. “It also helps having great teammates who push me to believe in myself. It makes me better.”
Also in the 200, Franklin placed seventh in 27.36 seconds. It was one of five events that saw the Trojans have two athletes score points. Joining Browder in the discus was Kathryn Cade, who placed fifth with a throw of 109-10. In the pole vault, Sophie Fong placed fourth (10-6), while Lilli Cusick was sixth (10-0). In the 300 hurdles, Katie Lord was fifth (48.11 seconds) and Anna Boezi was seventh (49.60). In 1,600, Dinah Gigandet was sixth (5:14.46) and Olivia Tyre was seventh (5:23.03).
Tyre also was sixth in the 800 with a personal-best time of 2:20.37, while Gigandet was seventh in the 3,200 (11:17.20). Both also teamed with Emma Kennett and Katie Castaneda to finish sixth in the 4×800 (10:05.89).
Stanley finished third in the long jump (16-0.5), while also teaming with Evelyn Plunkett, Franklin and Hutchinson to take third in the 4×100 (51.39 seconds). Jessica Goodwin was third in the 100 hurdles (16.19 seconds), Hallie Westmeyer was fourth in the high jump (5-1) and Franklin was eighth in the 100 (13.03 seconds).
Troy finished off the meet with Hutchinson, Laura Borchers, Alekhya Gollamudi and Ciena Miller taking fifth (4:17.81).
“When I first started coaching here, we were probably in the bottom half of the conference,” Snyder said. “To have a kid place in every event is pretty special. There were some years where we probably only had kids reach the finals in three years. The kids worked hard to get to this point. Our goal all year has been to win the overall GWOC and we were able to do it.”
The Piqua girls were led by freshman phenom Camilla Nicholas, who was second in the 100 (12.63 seconds), fourth in the 400 (1:00.15) and fifth in the 200 (27.21). Nicholas also teamed with Colleen Cox, Rakaela Smith and Ellie Jones to take seventh in the 4×400 (4:22.62).
For the Tippecanoe girls, Ashlyn Tarzinski was sixth in the discus (105-1) and Katie Taylor was eighth in the 1,600 (5:24.33). Taylor, Jillian Brown, Mackenzie Dix and Tori Prenger were seventh in the 4×800 (10:16.63).
• GWOC Boys
Jesse Westmeyer, Spencer Klopfenstein and Jaydon Culp-Bishop all placed in two events to lead the Troy boys track and field team, who finished eighth with 39 points. Troy also finished the two-day event in second place in the GWOC North, with Butler taking the North title.
Westmeyer was second in the shot put (48-10), while Klopfenstein was fourth (47-5.5). Klopfenstein was third in third in the discus (155-11), while Westmeyer was fourth (148-10). Culp-Bishop finished third in the 200 (22.69 seconds) and fifth in the 100 (11.43). Also for Troy, Tucker Raskay was eighth in the high jump (6-0), while the 4×200 relay team of Caleb Steggeman, Caillou Monroe, Noah Young and Lucas Henderson was fifth (1:32.99).
Tippecanoe’s Bryce Conley was a double-placer, taking third in the 3,200 (9:37.88) and sixth in the 1,600 (4:28.92). Also for the Red Devils, Griffin Caldwell was sixth in the long jump (19-2) and Jake Rowland was seventh in the 300 hurdles (42.32).
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong
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