ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Free Press
As it turns out, Hillsboro cross-country coach Stuart Holmes was justified in feeling his 2004 team could surprise a lot of folks.
The Trojan boys upset the eight-school field at Lindsborg on Thursday by prevailing yet again as team champions. This was the fifth straight title for Hillsboro and, more important, the first without former standouts Aaron and Daniel Yoder.
Based on their top five finishes in the freshman-sophomore and junior-senior races, the Trojans compiled only 23 points. Hesston was second with 27, followed by Council Grove with 31, Hutch Trinity 47, Smoky Valley 64, Ellinwood 96 and Sterling 104.
Haven did not have enough runners to compete as a team.
Hillsboro got its biggest boost in the freshman-sophomore race, where sophomores Sean Leihy and Nate Holmes finished 1-2 with times of 19 minutes, 4 seconds and 19:09, respectively, over the hilly 5-kilometer course.
Freshman Cody McMillen chipped in a strong seventh-place finish in 19:49 for the first race of his high school career.
The Trojans rounded out their team score in the junior-senior race with a third-place finish by Kody Borg in a team-best 18:56 and a 10th-place finish by Westie Magnuson in 20:02.
Adding to the Trojans’ accomplishment is that they won the title without the services of one of their top runners. Junior Ric Johnson is out for the season after suffering a broken hip during a practice run Aug. 28.
“The guys really did a great job of bouncing back mentally and running well after the tough news late last week that Ric is out for the season with a broken bone,” the Trojan coach said.
“Ric had done such a good job of getting in shape this summer and was running great the first two weeks of practice, so we will miss him.”
Also competing for the boys were Daniel Bookless (16th, 20:40), Robert Jost (17th, 21:01) and Clint Schneider (30th, 25:40) in the junior-senior race, and Jon Janzen (28th, 24:25), Alex Jost (30th, 25:07), Zach Magnuson (31st, 25:11), Tyrel Blecha (39th, 29:15), Zach Luthi (40th, 29:20) and Lance Kliewer (45th, 30:35) in the freshman-sophomore race.
The Trojan girls, meanwhile, were one runner short of having a full team. Their top finisher was newcomer Hannah Marsh, who placed 11th in the freshman-sophomore race with a time of 15:24 over the 2-mile course.
Elissa Richert was 17th in that race in 16:06, Megan Peachey 30th in 19:11 and Megan McCarty 32nd in 20:16.
Greta Kliewer placed 14th in the junior-senior race in 17:59.
“The girls and guys had a good start to the season and were able to establish a time we can hopefully look to improve next week,” Holmes said.
“With more training and experience, each week we’ll keep working for improvement, which is the measure of success we use with each of the runners.”
Challenging the runners was a hilly course combined with 90-degree temperatures and a stiff south wind.
“All the athletes should feel good about the hard work that they have put in and what they have accomplished just finishing a race of that distance under those tough conditions.”
Coming-The Trojan runners will compete at Hesston on Thursday. Races begin at the golf course there at 4 p.m.