ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
With a record 23 athletes heading for state competition, Hillsboro track coach Dennis Boldt couldn’t have been much happier after Friday’s regional track meet in Halstead.
“Getting as many kids as we can into the state track championships is our first priority when it comes to regional competition,” Boldt said. “Whether an athlete places first or fourth doesn’t matter at regionals- they qualify for state competition.”
The fact that neither the Trojan boys nor the girls won a team title, or that his squad came one relay short of achieving the goal of qualifying all six relay teams, didn’t phase Boldt either.
“By anyone’s measure, today was a complete success, and I couldn’t be more proud of our young people and my coaches,” he said.
The boys’ team finished second to a speedy Lakin squad, 77-70. The girls, with 74 points, placed third behind the defending state champs from Conway Springs (83) and more speedsters from Lakin (79).
Two of the Trojan relay teams won their event. The team of Daniel Yoder, Matt Unger, Pete Richert and Aaron Yoder raced to a substantial lead in the 4×800, then cruised into the finish in a time of 8 minutes 23.3 seconds.
The girls’ 4×400 team of Jenna Jost, Jessica Boese, Alisa Jost and Shannon Kroeker came from behind to break the tape in 4:15.8.
Also qualifying for state were the girls’ 4×800 team of Boese, Jenna Jost, Alisa Jost and Kroeker, which finished second, the 4×100 team of Andrea Peachey, Elise Matz, Jenna Jost and Charity Davis that squeezed in by finishing fourth by 0.1 of a second over Hesston.
The race for a state berth was just as close for the boys’ 4×100 team of Ross Duerksen, Adam Woods, Tyler Peachey and Alan Yoder, who placed third by 0.1 seconds over both Southwestern Heights and Conway Springs.
With five relays qualified, the 4×400 team of Peachey, Daniel Yoder, Richert and Duerksen took aim on history in the last heat of the last race of the day. But the Trojan foursome finished fifth and out of the money-by a mere 1.3 seconds.
“I don’t think we ran our best race in the 4×400,” Boldt said. “The first three splits were slower than usual. The lead we usually get wasn’t apparent because of the quality of teams.”
Hillsboro found success in individual events, too. Kroeker led the way for the girls by qualifying in two events-the high jump and 800 meters-by finishing first and third, respectively.
Andrea Peachey won Hillsboro’s other first by breaking the tape in the 100-meter hurdles in 15.2. This is the third year the senior has qualified for state in that event.
Also qualifying for the girls were Alisa Jost, who placed second in the 400, Davis, who finished fourth in the long jump, Trista Hanley, who placed fourth in the shot put, and Mindy Munguya, who finished fourth in the triple jump.
Davis, only a freshman, just missed qualifying in the 100 and 200, finishing fifth in each event. Andrea King finished fifth in the shot put.
On the boys’ side, Aaron Yoder had a great day with a pair of wins and season-best times in the 800 (2:00.5) and 1,600 (4:37.80).
“He simply peaked at the perfect time,” Boldt said of the sophomore. “He technically ran two perfect races. He didn’t get boxed in, allowing him to keep his stride, and in both races he kicked at the perfect time, leaving the field behind him.”
Sheldon Funk won the pole vault by clearing 13-6. He then cleared 14-6 and came close to making 15-0 for the second straight week. Daniel Yoder also qualified in the event with a career-best vault of 12-6.
Alan Yoder qualified for Wichita by placing fourth in the 100, but the junior missed the opportunity to defend his state long-jump title by placing fifth-six inches short of qualifying.
Richert missed a spot in the 1,600 by 0.8 seconds.
Two-time triple-jump state champion Braxton Skiles led the Marion state qualifiers. To no one’s surprise, Skiles won his event by covering a distance of 44-23/4, which gave him a 3-inch margin over his nearest rival.
James Davis had the next-best finish for Marion, taking second in the pole vault by clearing 13-0.
Also qualifying for the boys was Zac Ewert, who placed fourth in the 3,200 meters in 10:42.1, and Steven Boone, who placed fourth in the javelin with a throw of 130-2.
Megan Moore will be the lone Warrior girl competing in an individual event at Wichita. She qualifed in the javelin with a fourth- place throw of 111-2.
The 4×800 team of Alissa Vogel, Jessica DeForest, Krista Zogelman and Stacia Williams qualified with a fourth-place time of 10:52.1.
The Warriors had a couple of near misses, too. Joel Versch finished fifth in the 110-meter hurdles, and Jason Matz placed fifth in the 400 meters.
As a team, the Marion boys scored 34 ppoints to finish eighth among 16 teams. The girls placed 15th with 8 points.