By David Fong
Miami Valley Today
HUBER HEIGHTS — Lenea Browder was looking to take things easy with her first throw Friday.
All that Browder, a junior on the Troy High School girls track and field team, wanted to do with her first throw in the discus during the Division I regional track and field meet at Wayne High School was get a smooth, qualifying throw that would set her up for success later in the meet.
With that “easy” throw, Browder unleashed a heave of 159-4, breaking a 15-year-old regional record and, literally, breaking the tape. Officials didn’t have a tape measure long enough to measure Browder’s throw, so they had to mark her throw and go get a longer tape measure.
“I just wanted to take it easy on my first throw and get a mark,” Browder said. “I felt really good going into that first throw. I was really relaxed and just focusing on my technique. It went a lot farther than I thought it would. In all honestly, it surprised me. I was just trying to focus on my technique and get a mark, then I figured I’d really go after it after that.”
Well, she did.
On her next throw, she broke her own meet record with a throw of 164-1, which would end up being her best of the day and put her within reasonable striking distance of the all-time state record of 176-5, set by Westerville South’s Krista Keir in 1997. Browder would appear to be peaking at the right time going into next week’s state meet in Columbus. Last year she won a state title in the discus and finished second in the shot put.
“I definitely feel like the past couple of weeks my technique is finally getting back to where it was last year,” she said. “I’ve been feeling really good in practice lately.”
The only other local individual athlete to qualify for state was Piqua freshman Camilla Nicholas, who finished third in the 400 (57.78 seconds). She also placed sixth in the 100 (12.46 seconds). The top four in each event at regionals qualified for state, while the top eight made the podium.
“I’m very excited — it wasn’t what I was expecting my first year, but I’m glad I’m going,” she said. “I was really nervous during warm-ups, but then I started listening to music and it calmed me down.”
Browder will be joined at state by a pair of Troy relay teams. The 4×100 team of Annah Stanley, Brennah Hutchinson, Hannah Falknor and Kiersten Franklin finished third in 48.28 seconds, while the 4×200 team of Hutchinson, Falknor, Franklin and Katie Lord finished third in 1:42.85.
For Stanley — the lone senior in either relay — returning to state is sweet redemption. She made it to state on a relay as a sophomore, but didn’t make it last year.
“Not going last year definitely made me more determined to go this year,” she said. “It made me want to bounce back and work that much harder to try to get back last year. I’m just going to tell the younger girls that every girl there is going to be fast and we just need to keep up and have a positive mindset.”
Lord, a junior, said improved handoffs have been a big factor in Troy’s relay success this year.
“It feels great to be going to state, because last year we didn’t go because we messed up our handoffs,” she said. “That’s something we’ve been working hard on in practice, getting our handoffs down.”
Hutchinson, a junior, said the team’s focus is stronger than it’s ever been.
“I feel like our mentality is a lot better,” she said. “We don’t get down on ourselves and we always strive to do our best.”
Falknor, a freshman and two-time state placer at the junior high school level, said the relay teams have grown closer as a unit as the season has progressed.
“This is great because we’ve all grown really close,” she said. “I’m proud of all the girls because of all the work we’ve put in all season.”
Franklin, also a freshman, moved to Troy from Georgia last summer. She said being a part of the relay team has helped her feel at home.
“It feels really good to be going to state,” she said. “It feels good to be here.”
Troy freshman Sophie Fong was the only other local athlete to make the podium, placing seventh in the pole vault (10-6).
Dinah Gigandet was 11th in the 1,600 (5:17.95), while teammate Olivia Tyre was 12th (5:23.05). Emma Kennett was 11th in the 800 (2:28.43). Katie Castaneda was 14th in the 3,200 (12:22.43). Lilli Cusick was 15th in the pole vault.
Piqua’s Cassie Schrubb was 14th in the 1,600 (5:53.04), while Ana Adams was 15th in the 3,200 (13:01.26).
For the Troy boys, Braden Coate was 10th in the 3,200 (10:20.14). Jesse Westmeyer was 11th in the shot put (45-7), while teammate Spencer Klopfenstein was 15th (44-1.25).
Piqua’s Nolan Campbell was 11th in the 3,200 (10:22.76).
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong.
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