Troy girls track and field ready for another big year

TROY – Several times over the past few years, Troy girls track and field coach Kurt Snyder has taken it upon himself to temporarily re-name his team the “Troy girls field and track team,” putting it on everything from t-shirts to Twitter.

He may have ample opportunity to do that again this year, as the Trojans have the talent, depth and experience to truly be outstanding in their field (events).

“I think you’ve really got to start with the field events,” Snyder said. “I think they are really going to be the strong point of our team. We’ve got the majority of our field event athletes back from last year, which really helps. Those are kids who have the potential to score a ton of points for us. We’ve got four kids who competed in the state indoor meet.”

One of those four field athletes who competed in the state indoor meet was senior pole vaulter Sophie Fong, who vaulted 12-3 to place second in the state meet and was Troy’s lone placer at regionals last season. Fong, who has committed to vault at Ohio State next year, will be joined in the pole vault by juniors Hannah Duff and Ally Wolfe, along with sophomore Alyssa Kern, all of whom jumped at least 9 feet last year. Duff was an indoor state qualifier in the triple jump.

“We’ve got all of our vaulters back,” Snyder said. “Sophie was the state runner-up in indoor, which was a great experience for her to get there and go through that kind of pressure and still place second. She is the only returning regional placer on the team. She also tied the school outdoor record (12-4) with her PR during indoor season. Then we’ve got four other girls who have all jumped 9 feet … I don’t know if there are many other teams that have four 9-foot vaulters.”

In the throwing events, the Trojans also have impressive depth and experience. Sophomore discus thrower Josie Kleinhenz was Troy’s only other regional qualifier in an individual event last season, and she returns. She’ll be joined in the discus by sophomore Lena Walker and senior Ebony Six. In the shot put, seniors Madison Harkins and Sarah Castaneda, along with sophomores Kiyah Baker, Alexis Caplinger, Day’onna Harris and Amaya McCoy all return.

“That’s probably our deepest area,” Snyder said of Troy’s throwers. “We didn’t graduate anyone from last year. I don’t know if there are many other teams that have as many throwers who can all throw over 30 in the shot put and over 100 in the discus as we do. Kleinhenz was a regional qualifier as a freshman. Harkins has been one of our most consistent throwers the past four years. We feel really good about our throwers this year.”

In the high jump, senior Kaylee Ludy was an indoor state qualifier in just her second year competing in the event. She’ll be joined in the event by junior Trinity Hurd.

“Ludy got some great experience competing in the state meet, especially considering how it’s still a new event for her. After her and Trinity, we’ll be looking for some kids to step up. We have good athletes, we just don’t have the experience in that event.”

In the long jump, Troy’s top-two returning jumpers are senior Anna Boezi and Duff. They’ll be joined by sophomore Brooke Craft, a state qualifier in the triple jump. Ludy also could long jump for the Trojans this spring.

“Once again, we’ve got two more state qualifiers in this event,” Snyder said. “Obviously it’s a different event, but if they can translate what they did in the triple jump into the long jump, we should be in good shape.”

In the hurdles, the Trojans will be led by future Georgia Tech volleyball player Boezi, who missed setting the school record in the 300 hurdles by less than a second last season. She’ll be joined in the hurdles by senior Hannah Falknor, sophomores Kern, Hannah Steggeman and Lynnette McKibbin, along with freshman Deanna Rohlfs, who set a junior high record in the 100 hurdles.

“Anna Boezi is probably our most versatile athlete,” Snyder said. “She can score in the hurdles, the jumps and was part of our 4×400 relay team that went to regionals. She really started coming on strong last season. Then we’ve got a lot of other young hurdlers to give us depth.”

In the distance events, the Trojans hope to be bolstered by the returns of seniors Emma Kennett and Renee Kovacs, both of whom have battled injuries throughout their careers. Kennett will run next season at UNC-Asheville, while Kovacs, who was a state qualifier in cross country, will run at Xavier University. They’ll be joined by sophomores Millie Peltier, Kiley Kitta and Ashley Kyle, all of whom saw extensive varsity duty as freshmen.

“The injuries we had last year allowed some of our younger kids, like Peltier, Kitta and Kyle, to step up and perform. Now we think we are really going to benefit from the experience they got last season. Kovacs is coming off an incredible cross country season. Kennett has battled some injuries the past few years, so we are going to be really smart about how we have her train. We’ll have her doing running, swimming and the bike on different days to keep her healthy.”

If Troy can get healthy and stay healthy in the sprints, it should pick up plenty of points there, as well. The Trojans will be led by Falknor and junior Leah Harnish, both of whom were battling injuries all last season, but still managed to win Miami Valley League titles.

“Harnish has been working really hard and has been impressive in her training this winter,” Snyder said. “Early this spring, we think she’ll be ready to go. She’s got some big goals for herself this season. Falknor tied the school record in the 200 as a freshman. She’s a tremendous athlete. Her range is anything from the 100 to 400, plus she started running the hurdles last year and did well there, too. She’s a do-everything type of kid.”

Falknor and Harnish will be joined by a host of sprinters, many of whom had similar winter workout times, to give the Trojans depth as far as the eye can see. Troy’s sprinters will include seniors Ludy, Allison Frederick and Ansley Spence; juniors Hurd, Makenzi Metz and Kara Steinke; sophomores Lily Anderson, Kylie Buechter, Skyler Davis, Ava McCoy, Leah Reddick and freshman Kylee Snider. Steinke joined Boezi on the 4×400 team that reached regionals last year, as did junior Maddy Manson, who will miss the entire spring with an offseason injury.

“We’ve got so many sprinters that it’s going to be tough to get all of them into meets … but that’s a good problem to have,” Snyder said. “We’ve got all kinds of depth in the sprints. We’ve got a lot of kids who will have the opportunity to step up and show what they can do.”

Troy will try to use its depth and experience in all of the events to capture its 11th league title in a row and make a run at another Division I district championship. The Trojans had won five district titles in a row prior to finishing third last year.

“Our goal is always to win the league,” Snyder said. “After that, we hope to compete at districts and then get as many individuals on to state as we can. We’ve got pretty high goals here, which is how we like it.”