By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Sure, Lenea Browder had already committed back in February.
And yeah, last week’s official signing was only a formality, and Wednesday’s ceremony at Troy High School was merely a chance for the senior to celebrate with family and friends.
But there’s been plenty of emotions along the way for the Trojans’ three-time state champion thrower.
“It’s almost been a week. (Wednesday) will be one week (since the official signing). When I first felt the papers, I teared up a little bit,”” Browder said. “Just because I’ve been waiting for this for a whole year and now here it it. You’re about to become a Buckeye.”
On Tuesday, Troy High School held a signing ceremony for Browder in the Trojan Activities Center to celebrate her signing her national letter of intent to attend and continue her track and field career at Ohio State University in the fall.
Browder is Troy’s only multiple-time individual state champion. Her sophomore year, she won a Division I state title in the discus and was the runner-up in the shot put. She followed that up her junior year by defending her discus state title, this time winning by a substantial margin, and then winning the shot put competition on her final throw.
Recently, Browder — who committed to Ohio State back in February during her junior year before adding her second and third state titles to her resume — got the chance to visit the campus, including a trip to watch a Buckeyes football game and the chance to don her future uniform for the first time.
“That was amazing,” Browder said. “Going there, I saw the campus, got to hang out with the throwers and the team. That was a really fun experience. It all just confirmed that this is the place I want to be.”
“She made this a pretty early goal in her career,” Troy girls track and field coach Kurt Snyder said. “Ohio State was one of the first schools that showed interest in her, and that really got her excited about throwing at the next level. And being able to throw at Ohio State several times already — because that’s where the state meet is held — she kind of already feels like it’s her second home with everything she’s been able to accomplish there. She’ll fit right in at the next level.”
“It’s extremely exciting for Lenea first and foremost, for her to have this opportunity,” Troy throws coach Aaron Gibbons said. “And after that, it’s exciting for Troy High School and our track program, to be able to have someone like her to represent us at that level. Three state championships already, just unbelievable, and the opportunity to get two more, it just makes everybody in the track program, the school, the community, really proud of all the things she’s been able to accomplish.”
And with NCAA rules not permitting track and field programs to contact potential recruits or arrange official visits until Sept. 1 of their junior year, the Buckeyes made sure Browder knew she was wanted right away. Ohio State throws coach Ashley Kovacs texted Browder at 6:43 a.m. that day to set up that visit — and now, a year later, Browder’s name is on the dotted line.
“When you show up to the state meet as a sophomore and win an event, get second in another event, you start to get people’s attention pretty fast,” Gibbons said. “All the big college coaches are there, and she got on everybody’s radar fast. UCLA, LSU, she got mail from all the big schools, but it was really awesome that she was able to get linked up with Ohio State. And they have what she needs over there for her to be able to have a lot of success.”
And that ability to keep pushing Browder to new heights, combined with being close enough to still see her family, was what helped seal the deal.
“Family was a big reason why I chose Ohio State, just thinking where a lot of my family is here in Ohio,” Browder said. “And coach Ashley Kovacs is an amazing coach, too, and further on down the road, trying to become an Olympian, I know she she can get me there and I believe in her plan to get me there.”
But Browder also knows that before reaching out for those future goals, she still has a chance to further cement her legacy as a Trojan and possibly add two more state titles to her already-impressive collection.
“The funny thing is, my mind is focused on high school right now, but I always have an idea of what the next step is,” she said. “Like how do I get to college, how do I become a Big Ten champion … there’s always steps. And this is just one of those steps.
“Right now, I am excited for the spring season. It’s my senior year, my form continues to get better, I’m back on track with everything, my mindset is right. Coming in, I just want to compete against myself and go get those state titles.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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