Cross-country: Troy’s Gigandet among nation’s best

Morgan Gigandet led Troy’s sweep of the top three spots in the Miami County championship meet Saturday. GREG BILLING / CONTRIBUTED

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Morgan Gigandet led Troy’s sweep of the top three spots in the Miami County championship meet Saturday. GREG BILLING / CONTRIBUTED

A week ago Troy cross country senior Morgan Gigandet beat the top high school female in the nation.

She’s proud of that accomplishment, but Gigandet wants to put it behind her for now – just like she did with the field at the Miami County Championships on Saturday.

Gigandet led Troy’s 1-2-3 finish in another dominating effort by winning the county title in 17 minutes, 31.1 seconds at West Milton’s Lowry Field. She won in 1:16 over teammate Emma Shigley (18:47.3) with fellow Trojan Olivia Tyre (19:03.3) in third.

A week ago Gigandet posted this season’s fastest time in Ohio for a high school female — and No. 5 in the nation — by winning the Centerville Saturday Night Lights in a blistering 17:06.7. In addition to topping her personal record (17:26) and the course record (18:06), Gigandet also beat top-ranked Anne Forsythe of Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in Michigan by 22 seconds. Forsythe has the nation’s top time of 16:50.3.

She’s now among the country’s elite. But Gigandet is more concerned with being the best in the Buckeye state.

“I wanted be up there with the best numbers in the country,” she said. “But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. … It doesn’t count until state.”

Troy won the team title with a solid showing Saturday. Along with Kate Pence and Megan Myers, Troy placed its first five runners among the top eight finishers to score 21 points. Tippecanoe, led by Katie Taylor’s fourth-place finish, came in second with 50. The Red Devils were racing without the injured Kaili Titley.

“She makes a difference. She and Katie Taylor are pretty much interchangeable,” Tipp coach Byron Kimmel said. “We weren’t at our strongest today. We raced Troy earlier in the year and showed much better. We were just flat.”

In addition to Troy’s top five and Tipp’s Taylor, Bradford teammates Karmen Knepp and Skipp Miller, Covington’s Paige Boehringer and Tipp’s Laura Fink finished among the top 10 to earn All-Miami County first-team honors.

In the boys race, Tipp’s Bryce Conley won the individual championship in 16:14.8 for a 37-second victory over Milton-Union’s Shannon Milnickel.

The Red Devils had five runners among the top 11 — Conley, Ethan Sinning, Ethan Heitkamp, Brennan Larned and Austin Rogers — to win the team championship with 28 points. The Milton-Union Bulldogs were second with 89.

Milton’s Will Brock and Tristen Persinger, Troy Christian’s Robert Ventura and Nick Pratt and Miami East’s Gavin Horne joined Tipp’s top four runners and Milnickel as All-County.

Conley, a sophomore, missed last season’s county championship with an injury. Having to watch his teammates compete last season served as motivation.

“It definitely does. Last year I didn’t think I’d be able to do that good,” Conley said. “Not being able to run made me mad. It made me want to push myself more.”

Conley’s goal this season is to break 16 minutes. He didn’t get there Saturday, but he was far enough ahead where he said he could “faintly hear footsteps” from his competitors in the woods behind him.

As for Gigandet, she knows she’s not sneaking up on anyone this season. That includes runners like Forsythe from now on.

“If I can beat that girl from Michigan and I’m feeling somewhat comfortable — well, not comfortable, it was pretty hard — I still felt like if she was right with me I could have gone faster,” said Gigandet, who finished sixth at the Division I state meet last season. “At state I know I can do really well.”

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