By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — The team was more than ready to head to the regional after last year’s district meet. After all, the Troy Trojans had earned it.
Instead, the Troy girls cross country team’s season ended in a stunning disappointment — which could be bad news for the Trojans’ opposition this year.
A uniform infraction disqualified the Trojans as a team at the district meet despite the fact that the team had run well enough and qualified for the regional meet, and that heartbreak has only turned into motivation as Troy has prepared for the coming fall.
“After a disappointing conclusion to last season, this year’s squad has proven to be quite resilient,” Troy girls cross country coach Kevin Alexander said. “The seniors have taken charge since the girls began running together in June and put their stamp on the program.
“We wore two slightly different styles of jersey at the district meet last year — and since we had such a good pack, that’s the only way the officials caught it. Heck, we’d ran with those jerseys all year, and no one ever caught it. We never got one warning or anything at all all season, so we had no idea. If we had known, we would have fixed it. But they caught it that day.”
Not only do the Trojans know to watch for it this season, they are a team driven.
Leading the returners to the deep roster is junior Rachel Davidson, who still qualified as an individual to last year’s regional. With a group of seven seniors — Lauren Anderson, Cristina Dennison, Megan Falknor, Abbie Gohrband, Bridget McCormick, Lindsey Smith and Natalie Snyder — and seven juniors — Morgan Cockerham, Davidson, Katie Fetter, Hailey Huelsman, Anya North, Abby Pence and Megan Sweeney — the Trojans have plenty of experience back. Sophomores Megan Peltier and Lauryn Rutan round out the roster.
“There was a great deal of depth on last year’s squad. Six of the seven girls who ran the varsity race at the (Greater Western Ohio Conference) meet earned first or second team North Division honors,” Alexander said. “The reserve squad had the top nine finishers in the open race. Many of those girls return, and with an outstanding group of freshmen and first-year cross country runners, this team might be even better.”
And they’ve got the expectations to match.
“We want to win the GWOC North,” Alexander said. “That should be the goal every year. And we also want to see how high we can finish in the overall conference and perform well at the district meet.
“Individually and as a team, these 30 girls have set some lofty goals. Their conduct and hard work should make the school system and community proud.”
Tippecanoe was the first school since Cincinnati Taylor in 2002 to win the boys and girls regional championship the same year, and the Red Devil girls finished fifth as a team at state. But after the graduation of Allison Sinning — who finished third individually at state — they’ve also got big shoes to fill.
Hailey Brumfield will lead Tippecanoe’s pack of sub-20:00 runners along with Brinna Price, Abbi Halsey and Emily Wolfe. Freshman Laura Zink and MaKenzie Dietz, along with senior Katherine Wilcher, should help the Devils field another strong team this year.
Juniors Katie Litton and Haily Bohse and sophomore Kira Rohr lead the Milton-Union Bulldogs, who are taking aim at the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division.
“We have some new runners and freshmen that will have to step up and help us,” Milton-Union coach Michael Meredith said. “The girls will hopefully compete for a league title and improve into a team that can compete in big races.”
* Miami East
Miami East’s girls have qualified for the regional race three straight seasons, and they’re looking to have another big year this season.
Senior and three-year letterwinner Abby Hawkins leads the team, and sophomore Marie Ewing qualified for the state meet in both cross country and track seasons last year. Sophomore Lorenza Savini had a big year last year, and freshman Lindsey Yingst won the junior high league meet last season.
“I think we can perform very well in the Cross County Conference again this year,” Miami East coach Alan Russell said. “The league is getting stronger, with Covington and National Trail both continuing strong programs at their schools. Twin Valley South should also have a good team this season.
“I think the talent and work ethic is there with our girls this year, and that they can be one of the top, if not the top finisher at the league meet this season.”
Juniors Vivian Brauer and Rose Studebaker and freshman Macy Flanary have been working hard in the offseason and are ready to represent Newton this fall.
“These three runners are all three-sport athletes,” Newton coach Tiffany McBride said. “They trained very hard over the summer. Vivian and Rose look to improve their times from last year and will certainly do that with the hard work they’ve already put in. We are equally excited about Macy and her ability to make an immediate impact. She’s already running competitive times. She has the ability to be one of the top runners in our district.”
Seniors Marieke VanHaaren and Jill Callaham and junior Kaylee Baugh will lead the Bethel Bees this season, and they will be joined by freshmen Eiliana Wright and Lydia Thumser.
“Marieke was an all-conference runner her sophomore year and hopes to get back there this season,” Bethel coach Mark Clute said. “The girls are looking to improve with every race this season.”
* Troy Christian
Sophomore Megan Fletcher will be Troy Christian’s top runner this season, and the Eagles hope to see her running deep into the postseason.
“This is her second season, and she has a solid base of summer miles,” Troy Christian coach Jeff McDaniel said. “Look for her to be running in Troy come regionals.
“We don’t have enough for a girls team, so the girls will be running for individual goals and accomplishments.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.