By David Fong
TROY — The Troy girls cross country team won’t just be chasing a state title at Saturday’s Division I state cross country meet … they’ll be chasing history.
In more than a century of athletics, only two Troy High School teams have ever captured state titles — the boys bowling team in 2011 and the girls bowling team last winter. If the Trojans are able to bring home a state title, they will be just the third team — along with a handful of individuals — in school history to bring home their sport’s biggest prize.
Here’s a closer look at the seven girls who are going to try to bring home championship:
Gigandet, a junior, will be making her third trip to the state meet. She qualified as an individual as a freshman, then along with her teammates last season. She placed fourth as an individual last season, while leading the team to a fifth-place finish. Gigandet also is a two-time state placers in the 3,200 during track and field season.
She holds every school cross country and track and field distance record.
“Her consistency is outstanding,” Troy coach Kevin Alexander said. “She just doesn’t have a bad race. She doesn’t even have bad workouts. I’ve never coached a runner as consistent as her. That consistency, along with good effort, breeds good results.”
Shigley, a junior, will be making her third appearance at the state cross country meet. She qualified as an individual her freshman year, then was a part of Troy’s fifth-place team last season. She’s also been a state qualifier during track and field season.
“She’s a battler,” Alexander said. “She’s as tough a runner as there is. I hate to use the phrase 110 percent, but she is always going to give you everything she has. She’s a hard-nosed competitor. She’s willing to push her body places most people aren’t willing to go.”
Tyre, a sophomore, will be making her second state appearance. She ran with Troy’s fifth-place team last season. Tyre actually began last fall as a member of Troy’s junior varsity soccer team before transitioning to cross country midway through the season. She now is a full-time runner for the Trojans.
“She’s a calming presence on our team,” Alexander said. “She just has a very calming, upbeat presence about her. She is one of the vocal leaders of our team. She may have started her career as a soccer player, but she’s a cross country runner now — and a very good one. She hasn’t been training as long as some of the other girls, so she has huge upside.”
Bryant, a senior, will be making her third state cross country appearance — but her first at Troy. As a freshman competing for Butler High School, Bryant placed ninth at state, earning All-Ohio honors. She also qualified for state as a sophomore. She’s also been a state qualifier in track and field.
“She’s got so much spunk,” Alexander said. “When we had our summer camp, a lot of girls were talking about wanting to place in the top three at state. She was the first one who really stepped up and said, ‘No. Let’s win a state title.’ Finishing in the top three wasn’t good enough for her. She wanted to win the whole thing … that’s pretty vocal.”
Myers, a junior, will be running for the second time at state. She was a member of Troy’s fifth-place team a year ago, where she was the Trojans’ No. 2 runner at the meet.
“She’s one of the unsung heroes of this team,” Alexander said. “She knows that how she does is going to affect how our whole team does. If Morgan is off by 30 seconds, that probably means three or four places for her. If Megan is off by 30 seconds, that could mean 30 or 40 places. That’s why she’s so important to this team. She’s also one of the smartest runners on our team.”
Pence, a sophomore, was a member of the Troy team that finished fifth at state last year. This will be her second time competing at the state meet.
“Kate makes things light-hearted,” Alexander said. “She likes to keep things loose, but yet she always shows up to perform. She’s a grinder. She works hard every day in practice. She also has great maturity. She doesn’t act like a freshman or sophomore typically acts. She’s like an upperclassman.”
Zimmerman, a senior, is a two-time state qualifier — but like Bryant, this will be her first time competing at state as a Trojan. Last year, Zimmerman was an individual state qualifier at Lehman High School.
“She is definitely our most vocal competitor,” Alexander said. “She is loud and proud. She’s also a racer. She’s a gritty racer who has found her niche on this team. We’re definitely happy she’s a part of this team.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong