TROY — Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn is somewhere the Troy High girls cross country team has become familiar with in recent years.
According to coach Matt Richardson, Troy has only missed going to the state meet on the girls side one time in the last 26 years.
Troy won the Division 1 state title as recently as 2017, and this season’s team has also proven to be capable of achieving at a high level, as the Colts won the county championship earlier this year.
Troy’s accomplishment is one way of continuing on with the “really strong tradition” that has been established.
“It was going on before I was here,” Richardson said. “They were state champs back in (1993). … Since I’ve been head coach, I think we’ve gone to the state meet — this is my 16th year — if we go this year, it’ll be 15 out of 16 years we’ll go (to) the state meet. This is our fifth county title since I’ve been head coach.”
The kind of success Troy has had over the years doesn’t just happen by accident, and Richardson shared his opinion as to one of the reasons for it.
“It’s got a lot to do with the older kids, whether they’re varsity or not,” he said. “If they’re willing to put in the work, the rest of the team kind (of) goes into that. … And we’ve got that this year.”
Along with Caitlin Henning, Lauren Monaghan, Abby Dangremond and Emily Moore, Annie Dingwall is one of Troy’s captains this season.
“It’s really exciting this year, especially (because) we had lots of our successful kids from last year graduate,” Dingwall said. “So I think we were a little worried that we wouldn’t be able to be where we wanted to be this year. We had a couple freshmen come in that are really good, and it’s been nice to see them grow with the team and fit into the team dynamic and our team tradition.”
The Colts compete in a regional Oct. 25 at Chandler Park Golf Course in Detroit.
The top three teams from each regional advance to the state finals Nov. 2.
Richardson has already thought about another potential state finals trip.
“I’m excited for them to go there because I don’t think a lot (of) people really expected anything out of them,” he said. “So they can just go there and kind (of) have fun with it. This is kind of a big growing experience year.”
Mike Messina is an assistant at Troy who plays a large role with the boys team. He would also like for the boys squad to make a trip to Brooklyn.
“Our goal every year is to qualify for the state meet,” Messina said. “We’ve been ranked right around the fifth or sixth spot going into regionals, and the top three teams make it out, so we do have our work cut out. … It’s an attainable goal.”
One of Messina’s aspirations is for Troy’s boys team to consistently earn a spot at the state finals.
“The girls have had a tradition of qualifying almost every year since I’ve been here coaching,” he said. “We want that to be our normal.”
Liam Kelly, Zack Williams, Connor Levitt, Jack Falk and Nathan Worrel captain the boys squad.