A bit of closure

TROY — The Troy girls track and field team may not ever know what they could have done.

But the Trojans were still able to get a small bit of closure.

After the entire spring season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Troy girls — who were expected to be loaded with state-caliber contenders — have spent the past month working out together as a way to make up for lost time. And on Tuesday, the Trojans competed in an intra-squad time trials and field event challenge at Troy Memorial Stadium to put the finishing touches on their time together this summer.

“I’m glad we got to do something, have some sort of closure,” Troy girls track and field coach Kurt Snyder said after the meet. “Track is a little different, because you don’t know when your season ends. District, regional, state, you don’t know. Today, we were able to decide when we were done.

“I sent a survey out in May to see if kids were interested, and a lot of kids said they wanted to come out. Having a month of it, it’s a little bittersweet, but I’m glad the kids took advantage of the opportunity to get out on the new track and just be together again and compete a little bit.”

And the girls — particularly the seniors — were happy to have that chance.

“I’m glad we had practice through June, so it kind of felt like we had a season,” senior Laura Borchers said. “But it’s not the same as competing. We had a really good team this year, and we were definitely going to do big things. But this is as good as it gets. I don’t know anybody else who’s doing this and putting this much effort into it. It’s fun.”

Borchers, along with fellow seniors Maggie Welker, Sarah Kraynek and Breann Stith, gathered around the new finish line at Troy Memorial Stadium’s new-and-improved track, which was just upgraded last fall, to thank Snyder and his coaching staff for putting the month of workouts and Tuesday’s event together after it was all over.

“It’s really sucked, but I’m glad we got the opportunity to do this. It was nice to get back on the track one more time,” Welker said. “Going into the season, I was feeling really good. I had never done the 100 hurdles before, but I was excited I was going to try it this year. But it was nice to get to at least do it once, and I’m glad that we got to see everyone one last time.”

And there were prizes to be collected for the event winners, too. Up and Running — the sponsor for what would have been spring’s season-opening meet back in March — provided t-shirts for each event champion, and Snyder passed them out on Tuesday.

Collecting them were: Welker in the 100 hurdles, Kiersten Franklin in the 100, the 4×100 team of Franklin, Borchers, Leah Harnish and Maddison Manson, Sophie Fong in the pole vault, Madison Harkins in the shot put, Kathryn Cade in the discus and Sarah Kraynek in the long jump. Hallie Westmeyer also won the high jump, but since she wasn’t able to be present Tuesday, she competed in her event last week.

“It was frustrating, because I was wanting to run and beat records this year,” said Franklin, who missed her sophomore season and will be a junior this fall. Franklin was a state placer in the 4×100 relay as a freshman. “I feel really good. I feel like I got faster and could have done good things this year.”

“It was torture,” Fong said of missing the spring season, which also would have been her sophomore year. “It’s been such a relief to get back on the runway and start getting back to where I was. It definitely affected my ability, not being able to jump for three months. But finally being able to get back out here will give me a head start going back into indoor season. And there’s no pressure, so it’s fun because you can be out with your friends. The vaulters, we’re such a close-knit group, and it’s nice to be back with them again.”

For Cade, who will be a senior this fall, missing her junior season was especially rough, partially because it would have been her final season with teammate, graduate and three-time state champion Lenea Browder.

“It was really tough, because I quit basketball to really focus on lifting and getting ready for the track season,” she said. “And I also feel really bad for Lenea, for missing her senior year. I looked up to her, and I learned a lot just from watching her throw and just the way she carried herself. It was very tough to lose a teammate like that and not get to have a final season with her.

“It’s been great (this past month), going from lifting in the morning and being able to come out here and get back into the swing of things. And I’m looking forward to next season.”

The girls and boys distance runners — who are also busy working out for this upcoming fall’s cross country season — also ran time trials in the morning. Winners were: for the seniors, Dinah Gigandet and Josh Lovitt; for the juniors, Emma Kennett and Will Schaefer; for the sophomores, Hallie Frigge and Gavin Hutchinson; and for the freshmen, Ashley Kyle and Cooper Gambrell. And the boys throwers also competed, with Zach Ray winning the shot put and Grant Klopfenstein winning the discus.

“We want the kids to be able to concentrate on their fall and winter sports now,” Snyder said. “That’s why we only wanted to do it through June. Just seeing kids at the discus and pole vault at the same time as kids are running, it was just awesome to see.”

And with the summer track workouts now complete, all thoughts turn to the fall and what next year will look like amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The cross country team is already out on it. Before you know it, the junior high cross country team will be out here, the football team will be out here, and hopefully this will lead to us having fall sports,” Snyder said.