By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — Saturday, the reality of the postponed beginning to the spring sports season began to truly sink in as the first events of the year were lost.
To help ease the pain of that reality, Troy girls track and field coach Kurt Snyder offered a virtual one.
From the “Troy Track & Field and XC” Twitter account, @troytrack, Snyder live-tweeted a virtual version of the season-opening Troy Up and Running Invitational on what would have been spring sports’ opening day on Saturday afternoon, offering a brief respite for everyone staying in their homes due to Ohio’s “stay at home” order as the state, country and world try to slow the spread of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19.
Earlier this month, the Ohio High School Athletic Association postponed the start of the spring season and postponed then eventually cancelled the winter sports postseason tournaments after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered all of the state’s schools closed until April 3. The plan was to resume school as well as athletic practices on April 6, with regular season spring contests now beginning on April 11.
But with DeWine’s new announcement on Monday that schools would remain closed until May 1, the OHSAA will soon be adjusting those plans, too.
For Snyder, it was a chance to honor the athletes from Troy’s teams and the other teams scheduled to compete — among those being fellow Miami County schools Tippecanoe, Troy Christian, Milton-Union and Covington — as well as give credit to the event’s sponsor, Up and Running.
“Every year, we take a picture of each event’s champion and tweet them, tagging their school’s account and Up and Running, which is a very generous sponsor that provides t-shirts for every event champion,” Snyder said. “Up and Running still gave us the shirts this year, too, long in advance. So I wanted to give the kids who would have excelled some publicity, as well as Up and Running.”
Snyder tweeted each event’s winner and placers on the girls and boys side, then he compiled the team standings based on those results. Troy’s girls won with 141 points to Fremont Ross’ 67, with Fremont Ross winning on the boys side with 76 points, Northmont second with 70.25 and Troy third with 57.75.
But how did Snyder come up with those virtual numbers?
“It was easy, with Ohio MileSplit having everyone’s stats online. So I just used everyone’s personal bests,” he said. “I know that that doesn’t always happen, especially in the first meet of the year. But I just thought it was a fun way to do it and celebrate what would have been our first track and field meet of the year.
“I even joked around with the girls with the idea of us all getting together in a Zoom conference and taking a team picture that way.”
Event champions from Troy included Lenea Browder in the shot put and discus, Dinah Gigandet in the 1,600 and 3,200, Hannah Falknor in the 200 and Dawson Hildebrand in the boys shot put. In addition, Milton-Union’s Morgan Grudich won the long jump, Covington’s Kadin Presser won the high jump and Andrew Cates won the 400, and Tippecanoe’s Bryce Conley closed the virtual meet out with a win in the 3,200.
The meet was not only supposed to open the spring season, but it was also to be the first true showcase for Troy High School’s upgraded track at Troy Memorial Stadium, which was unveiled in the fall during football and soccer season.
Asked if the meet could potentially happen if the season resumes as currently planned, Snyder said likely not.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “With limited officials and field time, rescheduling meet in a normal season just can’t happen. If we start this season in mid-April or even early May, we’ll probably have to stay with the meets we already have on the schedule at those times.”
Troy was also scheduled to host the Herb Hartman Invitational on April 10, but with the regular season unable to begin until at least May, that meet is in jeopardy, as well. In addition, Troy is schedule to host the inaugural Miami Valley League meet on May 14.
Since the OHSAA announced spring sports’ postponement, as well as the state’s “stay at home” order, Snyder and his staff have taken steps to ensure that the team stays in contact and continues to work while following the Centers for Disease Control’s social distancing guidelines.
“We created a team website the first weekend we didn’t have track,” Snyder said. “Coach Courtney Wright, the distance coach, sends the kids workouts to do, and throwing and strength coach Aaron Gibbons posts strength workouts daily on his Instagram. We know that being able to work out is good for their mental health during self isolation. With the girls we have in our program, though, I don’t have to worry about them. They work hard on their own in practice and in the offseason when the coaches aren’t watching, which is always a good thing. They’re all very motivated on their own — that’s why we’ve had a lot of success the last few years now.
“We want to make sure the kids know that they’re all optional, though — the No. 1 thing we want is for the kids to stay safe and healthy.”
In fact, Snyder closed out Saturday’s virtual meet with an important message.
“Thanks everyone for letting me fill up your timeline today with our virtual (Up and Running) meet. Everybody keep doing your part and be socially distant so we can have a chance at an actual meet this year,” the tweet read.
Contact Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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