Hillsboro sophomore Emily Sechrist took a stride toward defending her state cross-country crown Saturday by out-dueling her primary rival to win the Wamego Invitational in the Trojans’ competitive debut.
Sechrist covered the hilly 4-kilometer route in 15 minutes, 45 seconds, finishing more than seven seconds ahead of Heather Ruder of Thomas More Prep, the Class 3A runner-up last year.
“She and Heather Ruder battled it out for two miles before Emily was able to pull away in the last half-mile or so,” coach Stuart Holmes said.
The girls’ field included 96 runners.
Leading the Trojan boys was senior Josh Richert, who earned a medal by placing 22nd in a field of 129 runners with a time of 18:55 over 5 kilometers. Caden Callaway of Pike Valley won the race in 17:23.
Following Richert were teammates Avery Franz (49th, 19:59), Jordan Bezdek (58th, 20:14), J.D. Schmidt (68th, 20:36) and Daniel Gray (100th, 22:20).
As a team, the boys placed 11th among 16 schools with 261 points. Christ Preparatory Academy won the title with 30 points.
Meanwhile, the other four members of the girls’ team ran in an all-class junior-varsity race. Karen Leihy placed 11th among 117 runners in 18:33, followed by Erin Wiebe (76th, 22:12), Mary Leihy (77th, 22:14), Karina Torres (90th, 23:07) and Morganne Hamm (110th, 26:22).
“It was neat to see all three girls that are new to cross country be able to finish their first 4k race, which is an accomplishment,” Holmes said. “I was proud of Morganne, Mary and Karina.”
Holmes said he felt good about his team’s effort on a challenging course and against strong competition.
“Other than Emily’s outstanding time and victory, runners that ran especially well were Jordan Bezdek, J.D. Schmidt and Erin Wiebe, as they all had nice improvements over their time at Wamego last year, which is significant.”
Coming—The Trojans will run at the Peabody Invitational Thursday. Races begin at 3:30 p.m.
“Now that we’ve started the meets, hopefully they will provide the extra focus on improving their conditioning so we can be even more competitive,” Holmes said of his runners.