Troy’s Coate, Kovacs ready for D-I state cross country meet


TROY — It will be new experience for the Troy cross country team this weekend when seniors Braden Coate and Renee Kovacs make the trip to Fortress Obetz for the state cross country meet.

It will be both runners first time running the course.

“We will go over Thursday and get a look at it,” Troy girls cross country coach Kevin Alexander said. “We were very familiar with the course at National Trail Raceway. This is only the second year the race has been held at Fortress Obetz. Hopefully, we will like that course just as well.”

The two runners have both overcome a lot to get where they are.

Braden Coate

Coate showed his talent early in his career, making it to regionals as a freshman.

But, Coate missed most of the his sophomore and junior seasons with stress fractures.

“I figured after my freshman year, I would make it to state as a sophomore,” Coate said. “But, I battled injuries the last two seasons.”

Troy boys coach Phillip Matthews knew it was just a matter of his being healthy.

“He has always had the talent and the work ethic,” Matthews said. “He has worked very hard on rehabbing to get healthy for this season.”

The results showed Saturday, when Coate finished 15th in 17:05.2.

He has run a PR of 16:19.

Coate knows there will be a lot of runners in Saturday’s race.

“Depth wise, it will be one of the biggest races I have run in,” Coate said. “But, I think it will be a big adjustment. I will get a look at the course on Thursday.”

And he has a goal for the race.

“I think top 40 is a pretty good goal,” Coate said.

His coach agreed.

“Top 24 is All-Ohio,” Matthews said. “And top 40 would be a good goal for him. We will get to see the course Thursday. There might be places where it is steep or tight and he may want to slow down.”

He knows Coate will do what he needs to do.

“Braden has always been good with race strategy and how to run the race,” Matthews said. “Saturday, was a great example of that at the regional race. He stayed behind the lead group and moved his way up and had more left at the end. Beyond everything else, I just want him to have fun because it is his final race.”

Renee Kovacs

Alexander sees Kovacs as an example of what you can accomplish with hard work and determination.

She has advanced from finishing in the bottom 10 at regionals as a freshman to qualifying for state as a senior, finishing 14th last Saturday in 19:47.2.

“You always talk about wanting to see kids progress throughout their careers,” Alexander said. “And most of them do. But, to do what Renee (Kovacs) has done, that is just almost unheard of. It just shows you how hard you worked.”

Kovacs always believed she would finish her cross country career at state, just in a different fashion.

“I never thought I would qualify as an individual,” Kovacs said. “I always thought we would make it as a team. But, we had some injuries so that wasn’t possible. So, I am just happy I was able to make it as an individual.”

She is humble about her accomplishment.

“I think (the improvement) just comes from having coaches and teammates who always encouraged me,” she said. “Even when you are going through injuries, they always encourage you.”

Kovacs knows the race will be different this week.

“Numbers wise, it is a lot bigger race than I am used to,” she said. “I know there will be a lot of girls packed together, so it will be a little bit of an adjustment.”

The way Alexander sees it, last week was the biggest race — now she will finish her career at the state meet.

“Last week was the pressure race,” he said. “Yes, this week will still be intense and there will be some pressure. But, not like last week (and qualifying for state).”

And Kovacs, who has a PR of 19:04, sees things pretty much the same way.

“I would like to run a PR,” she said. “Beyond that, I just want to have fun and enjoy the experience.”

Both Coate and Kovacs have earned it after what they overcame to get to state.

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