Yoders pace Trojans to second place at state meet

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
If Hillsboro couldn’t win the Class 3A state cross country meet in Wamego Saturday, this was the next best scenario.

Literally and figuratively.

The Trojans finished 21 points behind a seemingly invincible Kansas City Christian team to finish “next-best” for the third time in four years.

Almost more satisfying for the Trojans, though, was finishing one point ahead of Ellsworth, a team that had beaten them by one point at the Southeast of Saline a month earlier and by 14 points just one week earlier at regionals.

“It was a great total-team effort,” said first-year coach Stuart Holmes. “All the guys ran inspired, outstanding races today. We talked about running more aggressively than we did at regionals, and they went for it.”

KCC scored 67 points for the win, Hillsboro followed with 88, Ellsworth with 89 and Hesston with a distant 137.

Leading the way for Hillsboro- as has been the case all season-were those twin terrors of the terrain, Aaron Yoder and Daniel Yoder, who finished sixth and eighth, respectively, in their final run at the hilly course in Wamego.

Both runners finished as seniors should-with career-best times at state. Aaron Yoder crossed in 16 minutes 39.89 seconds and Daniel in 16:55.06-both about 15 seconds faster than their times a year ago. This was the third straight year the duo earned medals by finishing among the top 20 runners.

“Aaron and Danny ran outstanding races, finishing head of a number of people who had beaten them at regionals,” Holmes said. “They are both competitors and ran great races to put us ahead of all the other teams’ first two runners’ points.”

Coming in, the Trojans’ strength at the top was unquestioned; the two highest-placing Ellsworth runners finished ninth and 14th. The question was, could the Trojans’ No. 3 through 5 runners carry the day for HHS?

On this day they did. Contributing decisive points for the Trojans were juniors Kody Borg (23rd, 17:27.78) and Karl Magnuson (33rd, 17:44.05) and freshman Sean Leihy (62nd, 18:25.79).

“Kody and Karl ran outstanding races,” Holmes said. “How well these juniors did can be seen in their time comparisons from last year. Both guys ran right at 43 seconds faster than they did last year at state-outstanding.”

Also running for Hillsboro were freshman Nate Holmes (71st, 18:50.62) and sophomore Ric Johnson (74th, 18:55.99).

“Running very well for their first time at state were Sean, Nate and Ric,” Holmes said. “They all finished under 19 minutes and gained valuable experience for the future.

“Sean, like all of the guys, passed a number of people in the second half of the race and sprinted into the finish because we knew every place mattered to our team score-finishing strong ended up mattering a lot today.”

Holmes said the Yoders, beyond their natural athletic talent, played an indispensible role for this year’s team.

“They have done an outstanding job in leading the team with their dedication to running in the off-season, their quality work ethic and attitude every day in practice, and for leading the team at meets in races,” Holmes said.

Area runners

The Peabody-Burns girls placed sixth in the Class 2-1A race with 148 points, which placed them 54 points behind the championship team from Sacred Heart.

Tiana McGree and Jana Windsor paced the Warriors’ effort by finishing the 2-mile course 10th and 11th, respectively, in 12:44 and 12:46.

Also scoring for Peabody-Burns were Alyssa Carter (51st, 13:46), Ashley Elliott (55th, 13:51) and Kate Topham (96th, 16:26). Anna Zappone finished 99th in 20:19.

Andrew Topham, making his first appearance at state as a freshman, placed 11th in the boys’ race in 17:17.

Finishing right behind him was Eric Urzowsky from Goessel, who crossed in 17:87 for 12th place.

Justin Garrard of Center placed 70th in the race in 19:15.

Marion’s lone entry, Jessica DeForest finished 37th in the 3A race in a time of 13:22.96.

“That’s a real good time for her,” Coach Matt Robert said. “It must have been a real fast field this year because she did not run as fast last year and still almost earned a medal.”

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