Saturday was the final trip around her home course for Troy High School senior Morgan Gigandet. It’s the site of her three regional cross country individual championships, counting Saturday’s latest one, and countless memories.
But Gigandet didn’t get caught up in the moment. Actually, she wasn’t caught at all.
Gigandet won her third straight Division I regional championship in 17 minutes, 51.2 seconds, winning by 5.1 seconds over Springboro’s Lindsey Coffin.
“I’m not really emotional. I’m just like, ‘Oh it’s another race. I’m almost done,’” Gigandet said of her highly successful high school career. “I don’t even like hugs.”
Maybe that’s why she rarely runs in the pack, but instead leading it. Gigandet makes her fourth trip to the state meet on Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. She’ll be in good company with Greater Western Ohio Conference competition.
Centerville’s girls, the three-time defending state champions, won the D-I regional title with 73 points. That beat runner-up Cincinnati Ursuline Academy by 16. Springboro (third), Beavercreek (fourth) and Troy (sixth) also advanced as teams.
Tippecanoe’s girls won the D-II regional title with a 63-94 victory over Wyoming.
“Ohio is one of the best states in girls cross country for a reason,” Centerville coach David Dobson said. “Ursuline is going to give us all we can handle next week for sure. Springboro will bounce back. Beavercreek is always good and anyone from our region can change things around any given day.”
Centerville’s Grace Kilroy led the Elks with her fifth-place finish and Emma Bucher finished ninth. Beavercreek’s Taylor Ewert (third) and Lebanon’s Faith Duncan (fourth) also had strong runs for the GWOC.
“I thought the 1-2-3 runners for us were fantastic,” Dobson said of Kilroy, Bucher and Kerri Walsh. “Grace had an awesome race. Emma had a fabulous finish and Kerri totally put her nose in it and was an extremely gutsy runner. Our No. 4 was solid and 5-6-7 can shift around for us. They’ve looked at this on their calendar for a long time. It’s trying to get them in the right mind set that isn’t too ramped up or too nervous, either. Even keel. That’s how we approached and competed today.”
Tipp’s Katie Taylor finished fifth to pace the Red Devils to the regional championship. Tipp coach Byron Kimmel said the Red Devils, ranked No. 7 in the state, were picked by some to finish third at the meet. The Red Devils got a boost with the return of Kaili Titley, who ran one race during the season because of an injury.
“Not that they pay too much attention to that, but it did add a little fuel,” Kimmel said.
“Our girls ran one of the more memorable performances since I’ve been coaching. They executed exactly what we wanted to do. You want to be in the right position at the top of the levee. They did a great job holding their places.”
Bellbrook also qualified for the D-II girls meet. In D-III girls, Fort Loramie, Versailles and Russia also advanced.
Centerville’s boys scored 87 points to finish as regional runner-up to Mason’s 61. The Elks’ Ben Burkett and Andrew Craig finished fifth and sixth, respectively, to pace Centerville’s effort.
Lebanon’s boys team finished fourth to also qualify for state.
In Division II boys, Joe Spitzer of Versailles repeated as the D-II champion in 16:02.7 for a 12-second victory. In the team standings Eaton finished second and Brookville fourth to advance.
Fort Loramie’s Joe Ballas (16:19.0) and Jake Rethman (16:23.9) swept the first two spots to lead the Redskins to the D-III boys regional championship. Houston finished third to qualify for state as well.
In D-III girls, Fort Loramie, Versailles and Russia qualified for state.
As for Gigandet, she’s got one more shot at winning a state title – just about the only thing she hasn’t won in her prolific career. She finished 37th as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore and sixth last season.
“I’m really focused. I’m a lot more mentally focused this year than I’ve ever been the past two or three years,” she said. “I’m just excited to see what I can do.”