ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro High School boys continued their strong season by winning the team title by nearly 2 minutes at the Berean Academy Cross Country Invitational Thursday at Harvey County East Park.
The Trojans combined for a total team time of 87 minutes, 51 seconds to outdistance second-place Trinity Academy at 89:48.
Hesston was third at 90:56, followed by Augusta 92:10, Peabody-Burns 92:24, Goessel 98:15.9 and Bluestem 103:58.
In a unique format that combines similarly ranked team runners in five separate races, the Trojans recorded three first-place finishes and two in second place.
Isaac Leihy won the No. 5-man race in 18:09.16, Nate Holmes won the No. 4-man race in 17:53 and Sean Leihy won the No. 3 man race in a career-best 17:22, which gave him a 33-second victory margin.
Placing second for Hillsboro in the No. 2-man race was Cody McMillen in 17:45, about 15 seconds behind the winner from Augusta. Daniel Bookless finished second to Peabody-Burns’ Andrew Topham in the No. 1-man race, 16:41 to 16:18.
In the girls’ united varsity race, Hillsboro placed sixth out of eight teams. Remington won with 44 points, followed by Trinity with 60, Augusta 79, Andover Central 120, Mulvane 126, Hillsboro 131, Hesston 156 and Peabody-Burns 167.
Jacque Fisher and Greta Kliewer led the Trojans with personal-best times of 14:23 (22nd) and 14:29 (28th), respectively. They were followed by Carrie Schroeder (30th, 14:38), Elissa Richert (32nd, 14:47), Courtney Fast (51st, 16:02) and Megan McCarty (56th, 19:13).
Counting the junior varsity boys’ race, the Trojans posted 20 personal-best times on Thursday.
“The kids had another great meet,” coach Stuart Holmes said. “The course at Harvey County East Lake isn’t nearly as hilly as many of the others we have run on this year. So, between fewer hills, great weather and the fact that the team is getting in pretty good shape made for 20 PRs today.”
In addition to Topham’s winning race for Peabody-Burns, Jacob Wolf placed fifth at No. 2 (19:05), Duane Unruh fourth at No. 3 (18:18), Robert Rossberg seventh at No. 4 (19:19) and Ryan Wiebe sixth at No. 5 (19:22).
For the Warrior girls, Alyssa Carter was the top finisher (21st, 14:10), followed by Jennifer Schmeling (37th, 15:02), Ashley Elliott (40th, 15:30), Jacqueline Benjamin (54th, 17:56), Samantha Pickens (57th, 21:37) and Erica Dederick (58th, 21:40).
“They all ran extremely well,” said coach Tony Zappone said of his runners. “Their individual performances reflected determination and persistence.”
For the Goessel boys, Evan Fast placed seventh at No. 1 (17:59), Kellen Jenkins sixth at No. 2 (19:22), Brady Peters ninth at No. 3 (19:32), Cameron Voth ninth at No. 4 (21:06) and Jake Schrag 11th at No. 5 (20:14). Janessa Wedel, Goessel’s lone entry in the girls’ race, placed 35th (14:51).
HHS JV boys-Robert Jost was Hillsboro’s top finisher in the junior varsity boys’ race, covering the 5-kilometer course in 19:05 to place sixth. Ric Johnson was seventh (19:12) and Brandon McMillen eighth (19:18).
They were followed by Johnny Christian (11th, 19:39), Matthew Klenda (12th, 19:44), Jon Janzen (18th, 19:59), Zach Magnuson (19th, 20:07), J. Michael Hiebert (22nd, 20:17), Alex Jost (40th, 21:06), Clint Schneider (44th, 21:42), Victor Rogers (47th, 22:10), Lance Kliewer (48th, 22:19), Tyrel Blecha (49th, 22:21) and David Ratzloff (55th, 22:53).
Coming-Hillsboro will travel to Marion on Tuesday for the Mid-Central Activities Association league meet, starting at 4 p.m.
The Trojan boys will be seeking their fifth straight MCAA title.
“We look forward to competing at the league meet as there will be excellent competition in both the boys’ and girls’ races,” Holmes said. “I know our kids will be focused and run aggressively.”