Senior Tyler Proffitt’s gold medal in the pole vault topped Hillsboro’s accumulation of five medals at the Class 3A State Track and Field Championships Friday and Saturday in Wichita.
“I am extremely proud of our results this weekend,” coach Dennis Boldt said. “We brought home five medals, set new personal records and came back with a state champion.”
After placing fifth a year ago, Proffitt stepped into this year’s competition Friday morning with a mind set on a high finish.
“He was not settling for anything less than a championship,” Boldt said.
Proffitt took a bit of gamble by sitting out of the competition until the height reached 13 feet. But he cleared it easily.
“You have to admire the guy’s courage, and he literally was going for it all today,” Boldt said. “He didn’t have a great week of practice, struggling with his vault, but he didn’t let that hinder his performance. He has developed great confidence in his event. He literally won the competition in one jump.”
Even though the rest of the field dropped out at 13 feet, Proffitt went on to clear 14 feet as the winning height. He attempted 14-6, but didn’t clear it in three tries.
Two other boys brought home medals. Senior Shaq Thiessen, who came into the meet with a state-best 23-71⁄4 in the long jump, came nearly a foot short of that Friday. But his jump of 22-91⁄2 was good enough for second place behind Hunter Veith of Cheney at 23-1.
Thiessen struggled in the high jump Saturday, managing to clear 5-10 to place 12th. The previous week at regionals, Thiessen tied the school record at 6-6, which turned out to be the winning height at state by Nicholas Camper of Caney Valley.
A third senior, Josh Richert, won his first individual medal at state by placing third in the 1,600 in a career-best time of 4 minutes, 38.32 seconds. Cory Donley of Sacred Heart won the event in 4:24.10.
Boldt said Richert’s race was not only his fastest, but also his best effort technically.
“Being familiar with Donley and racing him at regionals allowed him to understand where he needed to be in this race,” Boldt said. “Josh stayed with the initial pack the first two laps and then as a group separated, he moved to the shoulder of the runner in third place, knowing that he had to be careful not to drop off the pace.
“From there he positioned himself at the 300-meter mark on the final lap, taking the runner currently in third place and separating himself to ensure a finish in the top three. It was a nice way to cap off a senior season.”
Also competing for the boys was junior Avery Franz, who placed 12th in the triple jump with a distance of 39 feet after qualifying last week at 41-11⁄2.
“I can’t say he had the day he hoped for, but I am extremely proud of his effort,” Boldt said. “He is a good jumper and I know he will take this experience and build upon it.”
As a team, Hillsboro managed 24 points to place 12th among the 40 teams that scored points. Sacred Heart won the title with 82 points.
For the girls, sophomore Emily Sechrist won a pair of medals in the three races for which she had qualified. She placed third in the 3,200 and fourth in the 1,600.
The defending champion in the 3,200, Sechrist actually improved her 2012 winning time by nearly five seconds Friday morning, but claimed bronze this year in 11:37.40 behind Jordan Puvogel of Hiawatha (11:22.59) and Heather Ruder of Thomas More Prep (11:29.46).
“I know she was disappointed in her 3,200 finish, but she shouldn’t be,” Boldt said. “She is a great competitor, running her career best times and doesn’t want to settle for anything less than a top finish. She prepares well, is dedicated to her sport and above all is a leader.”
In the 1,600 on Saturday, where she finished third a year ago, Sechrist placed fourth with a personal best time of 5:22.02. Ruder crossed the finish line first in 5:16.94. Sechrist’s time lowered her previous school record.
First the first time, Sechrist also qualified in the 800, where she placed ninth in 2:30.17. Ruder won that race in 5:16.94.
“To compete in three distance events in the state track meet is quite an accomplishment,” Boldt said. “A runner’s career is not defined by one race, rather it is a culmination of many competitions, and she already has five state competitions to her credit and four state medals.”
Rounding out the Trojans’ effort was freshman Marah Franz, who placed 12th in the pole vault by clearing 12-6.
“Marah competed well, clearing two heights and leaves this weekend with valuable experience,” Boldt said. “You simply cannot simulate what it is like competing at this level, and she will use this experience as she continues to develop her vault.”
Sechrist scored all 11 of Hillsboro’s team points, placing the Trojans 22nd out of the 43 schools that scored. Garden Plain won the championship with 411⁄2.