ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro Trojans captured four of the top eight places to successfully defend their boys’ MCAA league championship Thursday at Halstead.
Hillsboro finished with 42 points to beat their primary rival, Smoky Valley with 53. Hesston was third with 70 points, Collegiate fourth with 91, Halstead fifth with 100 and Lyons sixth with 146. Haven, Ellinwood and Sterling had runners, but not enough to qualify for team points.
For the second straight meet, senior Pete Richert turned in the Trojans’ top performance, placing third in a personal-best time of 17 minutes 7.39 seconds.
Ross Fishburn of Hesston won the 5-kilometer race in 17:02.21 and Heath Larson of Smoky Valley placed second in 17:03.67.
Right behind Richert were Aaron Yoder and Daniel Yoder of Hillsboro, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in 17:12.67 and 17:13.48. Matt Unger finished eighth in 17:52.47.
Rounding out the Trojan scorers was freshman Kody Borg, who placed 23rd overall and 22nd in team competition among the 49 runners from nine schools. He finished in 19:06.26.
Also competing in the varsity race for Hillsboro were Nick Unruh, who finished 26th overall in 19:16.50, and Tyler Stout, who placed 33rd overall in 20:04.50.
“We are very excited to be league champions two years in a row,” coach Brian Kennell said. “Heath Larson ran a good race to beat us after we beat him last week at Ellsworth. But we are very proud to have four runners in the top 10 at this race.”
Kennell said his runners felt they could have finished higher.
“Our runners felt they started a little too far back in the beginning of the race and could have finished a little better if they had started stronger,” he said. “This is something we will keep in mind as we go into our regional meet next week at Ellsworth.”
In the junior varsity race, Sammy Espada finished second in 20.09.99, Michael Bookless fourth in 21:26.20, Kaleb Borg 10th in 23:42.14 and Michael Fisher 13th in 27:23.14. Fifteen runners started the race.
Coming-The Trojans, still ranked third in Class 3A in the latest coaches’ poll, will compete at the regional meet in Ellsworth Saturday. The boys’ race is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
Joining Hillsboro there will be Beloit, Ellinwood, Ellsworth, Southeast of Saline, Thomas More Prep, Hoisington, Lyons, Marion, Oakley, Decatur County, Phillipsburg, Russell, Smith Center and Trego Community from WaKeeney.
Of those teams, only Hesston (tied for 7th) appears on the coaches’ poll.
The Trojans ran the course in Ellsworth during a meet Oct. 2.
“Our runners are very excited about going back to Ellsworth and running that course again for the regional race,” Kennell said.