ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro boys verified their pre-season No. 2 ranking in Class 3A with a solid win at their season-opening meet at Lindsborg Thursday.
Hillsboro literally ran away with the team competition with only 16 points. Hesston, ranked 4th in 3A, was second with 37 points among the nine schools represented.
Rounding out the team scoring for the boys were Hutchinson Trinity 50, Smoky Valley 63, Council Grove 65, Ellinwood 74, Chapman 92, Sterling 100. Haven did not have a full team.
With two athletes nursing injuries, the Trojan girls did not have enough runners to compete for a team score.
Winning the girls’ division was Smoky Valley with 21 points. Only four schools had full teams.
The format at Lindsborg divides both the girls’ and boys’ divisions into two races: one for freshmen and sophomores followed by one for juniors and seniors. Team points are determined by adding a school’s top five place-finishes from both races.
For the boys, Trojan seniors Aaron Yoder (17-minutes, 22-seconds) and Daniel Yoder (17:38) smoked the 3.1-mile junior-senior race with a relatively comfortable 1-2 finish.
In the freshman-sophomore race, freshmen Sean Leihy (19:10) and Nate Holmes (19:24) placed third and fourth.
Rounding out the Trojan team score of 16 points was Kody Borg (18:24), who contributed a strong sixth-place finish in the junior-senior race.
Also placing in the junior-senior race were Karl Magnuson (19:10) eighth, Michael Bookless (20:06) 16th, Aaron Miller (20:58) 22nd, Tyler Peachey (22:34) 30th and Eric Weinbrenner (22:38) 31st.
In the freshman-sophomore race, Ric Johnson (19:57) was seventh and Daniel Bookless (20:17) ninth.
This was the first year in recent memory that Mother Nature showed some mercy on the field. Rather than having to battle the rolling hills of the Lindsborg golf course with temperatures in the triple-digit range, runners took advantage of temperatures about 20 degrees cooler.
Each of the returning Trojans bettered his 2002 time, ranging from a 13-second improvement by Aaron Yoder to a 2:16 reduction by Michael Bookless. Borg’s reduction of 1:49 was the best among the Trojan scorers.
Trojan coach Stuart Holmes credited off-season commitment for some of the improvement.
“The summer running that a number of the athletes did really showed,” he said.
For the Trojan girls, sophomore Mandy Estus registered the best time (15:11) and place (13). Finishing behind her in the 2-mile freshman-sophomore race were Elissa Richert (15:31, 15th) and Jacque Fisher (17:02, 21st).
Kim Givens placed 23rd in the junior-senior race with a time of 18:26.
“All the runners competed well and should feel good about the way they ran this first meet-it was a great start,” Holmes said.
“Especially considering that for about half of our runners, this was their first cross-country race ever, I was pleased with the results.”
Coming-The Trojans will take to the field again Thursday, when they travel to Hesston for a tough meet that will begin at 4 p.m.