By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Troy’s Dinah Gigandet had little doubt.
The day was a little more stressful for the Tippecanoe boys and girls cross country teams, as well as Newton’s Ben Hoover and Troy Christian’s Robert Ventura.
In the end, though, all of them survived the pressure — and the terrible, rainy, windy and cold conditions — at the regional cross country meet Saturday at Troy High School to qualify for next week’s state meet.
• D-I Girls
As she picked off runner after runner, Troy’s Dinah Gigandet had a mental count of where she stood.
She needn’t have worried, though.
With 20 individuals advancing to the state meet, Gigandet finished sixth in the Division I girls race in 18:38.9, matching her finish at last week’s district meet and qualifying for state for the third straight year.
“I knew I wanted to go to state, so I was just pushing my way through,” Gigandet said. “I was counting each person as I passed them, counting them down.”
“She ran absolutely incredible,” Troy girls coach Kevin Alexander said. “She was 13th after the first mile, then she came around again and was sitting in eighth. Moving up against competition like this is extremely difficult — no one here is bad — and she managed to eat people up. If she does that again next week, wow.”
And Gigandet did it all against some of the best competition in the state — four of the first five placers ahead of her were from nationally-ranked defending state champion Beavercreek — and in abysmal running conditions, with the entire course consisting of mud and slick grass after the non-stop rain that continued through the entire meet.
“It was really bad. I was slipping everywhere,” Gigandet said. “It was cold, too. It was, pretty much (the worst conditions the team has run in this season).”
“In the big races she’d been in so far this year — at Hilliard at the Hot Summer Bash, at Centerville at the Night Lights — she didn’t run bad; she just didn’t have a breakout race. She expected more, and she knew she had more,” Alexander said. “We’d been watching her the past couple weeks just rip workout after workout. We knew it was there, and at the conference meet it showed, but the weather was nice and she had to run by herself. District was good, but then today she pulled something out that, next week, if she does this again, there will be some real excitement. She took it to another level today.”
And Gigandet is hoping that there’s another level left for state.
“I’m hoping to get on the podium,” Gigandet said. “I would love to do that. I don’t know (what it will take) — maybe better weather.”
And even though the Trojans came up short as a team — Troy’s girls were ninth overall with 230 points, with five teams advancing to state — Alexander knows that, with the youth on the team, that kind of performance on a day like Saturday only means bigger and better things in the future.
Renee Kovacs was 46th (20:05.7), Emma Marlow was 62nd (20:28.5), Emma Kennett was 71st (20:39.4) and Josie Marlow was 75th (20:41.8).
“Ninth for a team that consists of one junior, two sophomores and four freshmen? And they put everything on the line today,” Alexander said. “We haven’t had conditions like this, either, and they have not seen competition like this. And they managed to hold their own. I am extremely proud of how they performed today.”
Piqua’s Cassie Schrubb finished 68th (20:33.7).
• D-I Boys
With a finish like Tippecanoe’s boys had in the D-I race, every point mattered.
The Red Devils, running in D-I for the first time since 2012, were fifth with 192 points, tied with Turpin but qualifying for state on the sixth-runner tiebreaker, 67-97.
“That 2012 team made it to state by three points and had four Division I college runners on it,” Tippecanoe coach Byron Kimmel said. “This year’s team used the David vs. Goliath them all year — and we took actual passages and used them as motivation. Daniel selected five stones before he faced Goliath? Our lane was No. 5 today. David only needed one stone, but we needed all five … and snuck in that sixth one.”
Bryce Conley led the way and finished second (16:21.5). He was in third down the final stretch and passed Lebanon’s Sam Duncan — who finished with an identical official time — at the finish line, helping give Tippecanoe an extra point.
Landen Fraylick finished 21st (16:53.2), Brennan Larned was 60th (17:35.4), Trenton Brown was 66th (17:37.4) and Brady Shilt was 67th (17:37.6). Ben Prenger was the sixth man in in 78th (17:48.7) to break the fifth-place team tie, with Turpin’s sixth runner finishing 112th.
“Bryce and Landen carried this team today,” Kimmel said. “Brennan was inserted into the lineup after districts, and the senior responded with his best race of the year. He was our third guy and passed five runners in the last 50 meters. Ben Prenger was our sixth runner and came up big.
“We have 336 boys in our school, and the four teams ahead of us are all over 750. Actually, St. Xavier, Mason and Beavercreek are four times our size. It’s awesome to be able to accomplish this again.”
Troy’s Josh Lovitt was 68th (17:39) and Austin Zonner was 77th (17:48.7).
Piqua’s Nolan Campbell finished 74th (17:46.6).
• D-II Girls
With no room for error, the Tippecanoe girls qualified for their seventh straight state meet, finishing in the third and final qualifying spot in the D-II race.
The Devils finished third with 86 points, seven ahead of fourth-place Indian Hill. Oakwood won with 71 and Springfield Shawnee was second with 77.
Alex Foster finished 12th (19:55.3), Shelby Hept was 15th (20:02), Mackenzie Dix was 19th (20:11.6), Annie Sinning was 28th (20:39.3) and Tori Prenger was 31st (20:48.8).
“Alex Foster is a soccer player and played in the district championship game in which the Devils defeated Indian Hill (earlier this week),” Kimmel said. “Ironically, Indian Hill was the team we edged out today for the final spot. And Tori, our only senior in the lineup, was clutch today. She struggled at districts, but she showed up from the gun to the line today.
“I feel that the team has over-achieved after losing five standout runners (in the offseason) from the class that produced a second-place, two third-place and one fourth-place finish at state in the last four years. We weren’t even ranked in the top 20 in the preseason.”
Milton-Union was 11th with 293 points. Sophie Meredith led the way in 42nd (21:07.7), Rachel Thompson was 63rd (21:53.7), Ally Lyons was 69th (22:01.9), Micah Tracy was 83rd (23:34.6) and Maddie Stasiak was 87th (24:24.6).
• D-III Boys
Two area runners qualified as individuals in the D-III race, as Newton’s Ben Hoover finished 14th in 17:20.2, and Troy Christian’s Robert Ventura finished 16th — the final state qualifying spot — in 17:32.5.
“Robert ran a PR at the Bob Schul (on Aug. 24), but later in the season he told me that he felt like his legs were done,” Troy Christian coach Jeff McDaniel said. “So we took it real easy on him the last couple weeks, and he’s gotten turned around here these past few days. He ran well today.”
Newton was sixth as a team with 178 points. Owen Via was 30th (18:13.8), Curtis Shellenberger was 43rd (18:30.1), Clint Shellenberger was 52nd (18:49) and Jacob Moore was 73rd (19:32).
Troy Christian was 12th with 278 points. Noah Shook was 58th (18:57), Nate Hunnicutt was 79th (19:48.2), Torin Schulte was 87th (20:01.8) and Aiden Tkach was 94th (20:29.2).
Covington’s Bennett Welborn finished 49th (18:41.5).
The state meet will be held Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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