Kovacs, Coate advance to D-I state meet in cross country


TROY — They were wet and covered with mud.

But, the smiles on their faces and their coaches excitement told you what Troy seniors Renee Kovacs and Braden Coate had accomplished after their respective races at the Troy D-I regional meet Saturday.

Both seniors will be making appearances at next week’s state meet at Fortress Obetz after top 20 finishes at the regional Saturday run along the Troy levy bank.

The girls race was first and Kovacs — needing a top 20 finish to advance to state — crossed the finish line in 14th place in 19:47.2.

“I wasn’t going to let my senior year go by without running at the state meet,” Kovacs said. “I thought I had a pretty good shot. It has rained every year at the regional, so why would this year be any different. I just looked at it as everybody has to run in it.”

The only person more excited than Kovacs herself may have been Troy girls cross country coach Kevin Alexander.

“This is a girl who finished in the bottom 10 at regionals as a freshman,” Alexander said. “That just shows you how hard she has worked and persevered. I just couldn’t be any prouder than I am of her.”

Kovacs gets to end her career at the state meet.

“I want to enjoy it,” she said. “I think it is going to be fun.”

The boys race followed and Coate admitted Kovacs performance was motivation for him.

“I saw her drop a lot of time out there and I knew I could too,” Coate said. “She works so hard in practice and I always try to replicate that.”

Coate — also needing a top 20 finish to advance — finishing 16th in 17:05.2.

As he crossed the line, he had a big smile on his face.

“I have been injured the last two years,” Coate said. “It feels amazing to be going to state. I felt like I could do it, but you never know until the race. The whole team ran PRs last week at district. I know running at state is going to be a blast and I am going to enjoy it. It feels great to be going to state.”

Troy boys cross country coach Phillip Matthews was equally excited.

“You know, this is the first year Braden (Coate) has been healthy,” Matthews said. “That was a master class in racing. He started in the 30s and just kept working his way up. I am really proud of him. I am proud of our whole team. They ran a great race today. That is a great team.”

Troy just missed advancing as team.

Needing to finish in the top five, the Trojans took seventh.

Other Troy runners included Will Schaefer, 46, 17:47.5; Gavin Hutchinson, 48, 17:48.5; Matthew Spayde, 55, 17:53.7; Kyle McCord, 69, 18:07.3; Luke Plaisier, 71, 18:09.4 and Cooper Gambrell, 135, 19:46.6.

Tippecanoe finished 11th.

Tipp runners included Dylan Taylor, 51, 17:49.7; Ben Brunswick, 67, 18:04.8; Will Hept, 80, 18:15.3; Ben Huber, 85, 18:18.1; Allan Murray, 92, 18:27.9; Ben Prenger, 93, 18:28.8 and Kalib Tolle, 106, 18:43.0.

Piqua’s Noah Burgh finished 68yh in 18:06.6.

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