ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Domination is a meritorious accomplishment in any sport, but there’s nothing like the thrill of an unexpected victory.
Hillsboro track-and-field coaches, athletes and fans reveled in both Friday as the boys’ and girls’ team earned championship titles at the Mid Central Activities Association league meet in Halstead.
The boys’ lopsided victory-105 points ahead of their nearest competitors-was their fourth straight and perhaps most impressive league title yet.
But it was the girls’ seven-point win over favored Hesston that generated the most buzz when the day was over. Adding to the accomplishment was the fact that all but two of Hillsboro’s 98 points were scored by freshmen.
“It wasn’t a surprise to be among the top three teams,” Boldt said afterward. “But we are excited, we knew we had a chance to win. It was a great finish to a really nice day.”
Boldt said he knew his team would need help from Lyons, Wichita Collegiate and Sterling in the throwing events to keep Hesston sisters Liz and Kate Sowers from scoring big points in those events.
The Trojans got that help as Kate Schaake from Collegiate won both the shot put and discus, Heather Durham of Sterling won the javelin, and Sierra Radke from Lyons placed second in the shot and third behind Liz Sowers in the discus.
But the Trojans probably got the biggest break when Hesston standout Steph Hammond injured a hamstring midway through her preliminary heat in the 200 meters.
Hammond had already won the long jump earlier in the meet and would have been a force for Hesston in the running events.
“Without a doubt the injury to the Hammond girl probably made the difference,” Boldt said. “I don’t want to take anything away from our girls, but I have great respect for the Hesston coach. We talked before the meet and we knew it would come down to who would perform.”
And make no mistake, the Hillsboro girls did perform.
Leading the way was JuliAnne Chisholm, who won the high jump by clearing 5-feet 2-inches, won the 100-meter high hurdles in a time of 15.6 seconds, and then set a new HHS record when she finished second in the 1,600 meters.
Her time of 5:34.58 eclipsed the mark of 5:35.3 set by Tammy Penner in 1983.
“I didn’t know that JuliAnne would get the record today because we didn’t know how much we’d have somebody to push her,” Boldt said. “(Leah Thompson) from Lyons really pushed her-and even won the race.”
Hannah Marsh won Hillsboro’s only other individual gold medal, breaking the tape in the 100 meters in 12.59 seconds. She also placed second in the pole vault and long jump.
Those two freshman standouts joined forces with Jessica Heidel and Kelsey Penner to win the 4×400 by just under 13 seconds.
Key finishes by other Trojan freshmen were contributed by Tina Frick, who placed second in the 300-meter hurdles and third in the 100-meter hurdles; Sydney Waner, who placed third in pole vault with a personal best of nine feet even; Penner, who placed fifth in pole vault; and Heidel, who finished fourth in the triple jump.
The 4×100 team of Megan Peachey, Frick, Penner and Heidel placed fourth.
For all the points scored in those events, Boldt said the outcome of the meet may have turned on two fifth-place finishes from two largely unheralded athletes, senior Stephanie King in the discus, and Elissa Richert in the 3,200.
In both cases, they edged athletes from Hesston to give the Trojans a boost.
HHS boys dominate
No one who follows MCAA track results through the season was surprised the Trojan boys sewed up their unprecedented fourth straight league title, but even Boldt was surprised by the margin.
The Trojans rolled up 184 points in the 10-team field; second-place Sterling managed 79.
“I was surprised by the amount of points we separated (ourselves) -not the amount of points we scored,” he said. “Everybody else sort of knocked everybody else down. Second and third place were really close.”
Trojans won nine of the 18 events. Aaron Yoder led the gold rush by sweeping the middle-distance triple crown with wins in the 3,200 (10:39.14), the 1,600 (4:47.68) and the 800 (2:02). He teamed with Kyle Jilka, Tyler Peachey and Daniel Yoder to win the 4×400 (3:32.68).
“Aaron has won the 1,600, 3,200 and 800 two years in a row now at league, and he is a three-time champion in the 1,600,” Boldt said. “Aaron is coming into his own right now, he’s peaking at the right time.”
Also claiming individual gold for the Trojans were Peachey in the discus (140-9) and 200 meters (22.92), Brodie Unrau in the high jump (6-0), Caleb Marsh in the 100 meters (11.23) and Sammy Espada in the triple jump (43-61/2).
The 4×100 team of Derek Mayfield, Marsh, Unrau and Peachey edged three other teams by less than a second with a time of 44.33.
Adding second-place finishes for Hillsboro were Mayfield in the 100 and triple jump, Marsh in the long jump and pole vault and Daniel Yoder in the 400 and 800.
Boldt said the top single performance of the day was Espada’s effort in the triple jump.
“He literally jumped a foot farther than his previous best,” Boldt said. “And getting over 43 feet is a real milestone-that’s one of those marks you’ve got to get past. We know the (HHS) record is 44-6, and he’s got it in his sights now.”
Boldt said he and his athletes didn’t take winning another league title for granted.
“That was really a big goal for us,” he said. “I always use the league meet as kind of a marker for how we’re doing for the year because we face the same teams every year. I know regional and state competition is tougher than the league, but it’s still a nice way to look at things.”
Coming-The Trojans will travel to Cheney on Friday for regionals. The top four finishers in each event will qualify for the state track meet in Wichita, May 28-29.
Joining Hillsboro will be teams from Belle Plaine, Cheney, Cimarron, Conway Springs, Garden Plain, Halstead, Hesston, Holcomb, Hutchinson Trinity, Lakin, Lyons, Marion, Medicine Lodge and Wichita Independent.
Field events will begin at 3 p.m., prelims at 4:30 p.m. and finals at 6 p.m.