Hillsboro qualified two individual runners for state cross-county Saturday at the Class 3A regional meet at Southeast of Saline High School.
Leading the way, literally, was Hillsboro sophomore Emily Sechrist, the 2011 defending champion, who won the girls’ race by a whopping 26 seconds with a time of 15 minutes, 31 seconds.
Her closest competitor was Klair Gibson of Douglass, who crossed the finish line with a time of 15:57. Sechrist led the field of 63 runners the entire way.
“Just like last year, she is running extremely well here at the end of the season,” said Hillsboro coach Stuart Holmes.
Meanwhile, Josh Richert qualified for the state boys’ race again by finishing eighth in 18:14.
“Emily and Josh both earned a return trip to state with excellent races,” Holmes said. “Our regional was really strong again this year, so to qualify was difficult. Qualifying for state again is a result of all the hard work that Emily and Josh have put in this year.”
Sechrist’s sophomore teammate, Karyn Leihy, just missed qualifying by finishing 13th in 17:07. Leihy was the sixth runner from a non-qualifying team and would have qualified as the fifth runner if Haven’s team would have had one less point and been the third-place team instead of Sacred Heart.
“It was a tough break for Karyn, who had such a gutsy performance,” Holmes said. “Her excellent time would likely have qualified from any of the other three regionals. She gave it all she had and should feel good about her effort and how well she ran today.”
As a team, the Hillsboro girls placed sixth among the nine schools competing as teams. Joining Sechrist and Leihy were Erin Wiebe (51st, 20:24), Mary Leihy (59th, 22:29) and Morganne Hamm (60th, 24:00).
The Trojans did not have enough boys to field a team, but joining Richert in the race were Jordan Bezdek (46th, 20:36) and Daniel Gray (72nd, 23:10).
“All of our runners gave an outstanding effort and, in fact, every single one of our runners improved their time from a month ago when we ran at Southeast of Saline during the season,” Holmes said.
Coming—After getting a rehearsal run of the course Sept. 22, Emily Sechrist and Josh Richert will return Saturday to Rim Rock Ranch near Lawrence for the Class 3A state races. Sechrist is scheduled to run at 10:30 a.m. while Richert will run at noon.
Sechrist will again compete against two chief rivals. Sarah Wright of Douglass was last year’s state runner-up, but placed sixth Saturday at Southeast of Saline between two teammates.
Heather Ruder of Thomas More Prep, the third-place finisher, won the regional at Cimarron Saturday by 30 seconds with a time of 17:51.