By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
HEBRON — Troy’s Dinah Gigandet and Tippecanoe’s Bryce Conley were both somewhat disappointed after their respective races Saturday.
Even so, they still finished as two of the best runners in the state.
Gigandet was 16th in the girls Division I race and Conley was 17th in the D-I boys one, both of them earning All-Ohio honors to lead the local finishers at the state cross country meet Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
• D-I Girls
The first year she ran at state, she ran with her full Trojan team. The following year, she had a pair of teammates.
Her junior year? Dinah Gigandet was Troy’s lone state qualifier.
“Yeah, it wasn’t as fun. I mean, it was still fun, but it’s always better with a team,” Gigandet said. “It took a lot of strength. I felt good, and I’m happy that I made it.
She made the best of it, though, finishing 16th individually in 18:23.4 to earn All-Ohio honors. And though Gigandet had hoped for a higher place, her coach kept things in perspective and was incredibly pleased with her performance.
“I’m ecstatic,” Troy girls coach Kevin Alexander said. “Absolutely ecstatic. There aren’t that many kids that have progressed the way she has over her career. She was an average junior high runner, and to be an All-Ohioan, one of the few Troy athletes ever to be an All-Ohioan, as a junior, that speaks to her hard work, her dedication and the sacrifices she’s made to get to where she’s at.”
And the progress she’s made at the state meet alone shows just how far she’s come.
Her freshman year, she finished 158th in 21:09, and her sophomore year she was 41st in 19:27 — with this year’s time beating last year’s by more than a full minute.
Saturday’s race began tightly packed, but by the midway point Gigandet had worked her way through and locked up her All-Ohio finish.
“The last mile, I was kind of alone,” Gigandet said. “But it was okay. I just tried to catch people.”
But she’s not alone. Gigandet’s performance means that Troy has had an All-Ohio runner for the past five seasons — Olivia Tyre for the previous two, and then Morgan Gigandet the two years before that. Before that, the last one was Katie Kisiel in 1999.
“She’s in rare company,” Alexander said. “And I can’t think of another athlete we’ve had that has progressed that much. Other kids, you know in junior high that they’re going to be pretty good. Her PR in junior was around 15:02, and now she’s running 18:23 with a whole extra 1.1 miles. To run within a second of her career PR today, I’m just very proud of her.”
• D-II Girls
Even after graduating a big senior class last year, the Red Devil girls made it seven straight trips to state this year.
And they did it with an incredibly young team, too, as Tippecanoe’s girls were 10th as a team with 267 points.
“The goal going in was to keep our top-10 streak going, and we did that, making it seven years in a row the girls have finished in the top 10,” Tippecanoe coach Byron Kimmel said. “I was looking between eighth and 12th we could finish, and we had a pretty good day.”
Freshman Alex Foster led the Red Devils, finishing 46th in 19:38. But for the first time all year, the Devils’ tight pack was kept separated for the most part.
“This one was a lot faster because there’s really good competition here,” Foster said when asked to compare state to other races. “There was a lot more people in between all of the runners, too. You just try to stay where you’re supposed to be and hope for the best.”
Sophomore Annie Sinning was 73rd (20:06.6), Shelby Hept was 93rd (20:16.7), junior Mackenzie Dix was 94th (20:17.3) and Tori Prenger — the team’s only senior — was 105th (20:32). Libby Krebs was 125th (20:56.6) and Carli Federle was 163rd (22:03.5).
“We’re all really good friends, and we’ve ran together since we were younger,” Foster said. “We always push each other and motivate each other.”
And now that the Devils have seen what state is like, they’ll be ready for another run next year — and for most, the two years after that, as well.
“We lack experience, and this place can be overwhelming,” Kimmel said. “And before the race, I could see some of our younger kids letting it get to them a little. But you’ve got to get here to get that experience, and then hopefully you can get back and utilize that experience.”
• D-I Boys
Tippecanoe’s boys found themselves back in D-I for the first time since 2015, but that didn’t stop senior Bryce Conley from impressing as he turned in an All-Ohio performance by finishing 17th in 15:48.2.
Still, he personally wanted more
“I was hoping for a higher placement to be honest. I was aiming for top 15 and hoping for top 10,” Conley said. “But getting All-Ohio is good.”
“I was a bit worried about Conley getting top 20,” Kimmel said. “He didn’t get a very good start, but he closed well. What a great career he has had.”
Tippecanoe’s boys were 12th as a team with 278 points — the same place they ended up in last year’s D-II race.
“For the guys to finish 12th — beating Lebanon, who beat us last week at the regional — that’s good,” Kimmel said. “We were without our No. 2 guy, Allan Murray, due to injury, too. But guys stepped up. Putting six guys out of seven under 17 is really good.”
After Conley, Landen Fraylick was 53rd (16:19.4), Brennan Larned was 117th (16:50.9), Ben Prenger was 127th (16:55.4) and Brady Shilt capped off the scoring in 129th (16:55.5). Trenton Brown was 133rd (16:57.7) and Austin Rodgers was 153rd (17:10).
“The competition was a lot better this year than it was last year in D-II,” Conley said. “It didn’t feel much different, though, but in terms of the team competition, there was a lot more people in that middle pack than we were used to last year. It made it difficult.”
“We weren’t ranked in the preseason, either team,” Kimmel said. “That’s a testament to the kids believing in our system and putting in the effort. And we’ve got good kids coming back, too. All of the senior guys this year gave us great leadership. They established a positive environment that allowed us to make this jump and be successful — which is not easy. Overall, I’m very pleased with how this played out. Hopefully we can keep the mojo going next year.”
• D-III Boys
A pair of Miami County runners — Newton’s Ben Hoover and Troy Christian’s Robert Ventura — both qualified as individuals in the D-III boys race.
Hoover finished 34th in 16:05.1, and Ventura finished 53rd in 17:06.4.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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