Depleted Trojan runners finish fourth at Ellsworth meet

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
With one of its top runners watching from the sidelines, the Hillsboro High School boys’ team still placed fourth at the 11-school cross-country meet in Ellsworth Oct. 4.

Sophomore Cody McMillen, a steady performer throughout the season, did not compete at Ellsworth for physical reasons.

His teammates carried on admirably on his absence, led by Daniel Bookless, who finished the hilly and windy 5-kilometer course in third place with a time of 18 minutes, 18 seconds.

Nate Holmes placed 14th in 19:12, Sean Leihy 18th in 19:36, Isaac Leihy 29th in 20:39 and Thad Holmes 34th in 21:11.

Hillsboro finished with 98 team points, placing them behind Abilene (41), Sacred Heart (83) and Hesston (96). Trailing the Trojans were Smoky Valley (136), Ellsworth (148), Beloit (149), Kinsley (210) and Sylvan Unified (224).

“The runners gave a good effort, but certainly the times reflected being on a hilly course under extremely windy conditions,” coach Stuart Holmes said.

“Obviously, without Cody McMillen for this meet, the boys’ team score was not as good as it would have been normally.”

It was a physically challenging day for the Trojans in other ways, too.

Senior Ric Johnson did not finish the varsity boys’ race because of a possible injury following a fall.

“Ric hit a post with one foot during the race, fell hard on his shoulder and rolled down a hill,” coach Stuart Holmes said.

“He got up and kept running until I made him stop later on because we were concerned it was broken.”

Holmes said an x-ray indicated no broken bones, but Johnson was sore and his shoulder movement was limited the next day.

“But he was ready to run in practice,” Holmes said. “I appreciate the mental toughness demonstrated by this group of young people.”

Another example Holmes cited was Elissa Richert of the girls’ team, who has been running for much of the season on a broken little toe.

“She’s chosen to keep running in spite of the pain,” Holmes said.

Richert was the Trojans’ No. 3 finisher in the girls’ race, completing the 2-mile course in 15:58. Jacque Fisher led the team by placing 25th in 15:35 and Greta Kliewer was 27th in 15:58.

Carrie Schroeder, who has led the Trojan girls for most of the season, placed 34th in 16:27. Courtney Fast was 41st in 17:38 and Megan McCarty 49th in 20:08.

In the team competition, HHS placed sixth. Ellsworth won with 42 points, followed by Sacred Heart (56), Smoky Valley (72), Abilene (105), Beloit (117). Hillsboro (141) and Kinsley (163).

Junior varsity-The Trojans placed third among five teams in the boys’ junior-varsity race.

Running for HHS were Brandon McMillen (2nd, 21:00), Johnny Christian (10th, 21:57), J. Michael Hiebert (15th, 22:31), Zach Magnuson (16th, 22:52), Matthew Klenda (18th, 23:09), Clinton Schneider (25th, 24:19), Alex Jost (27th, 24:30), Lance Kliewer (28th, 24:39), Victor Rogers (32nd, 25:22), David Ratzloff (33rd, 25:25), Tyrel Blecha (25:30).

Coming-The Trojans will have some time to recover from Ellsworth and prepare for the Mid-Central Activities Association league meet on Thursday. The event will be held at Marion County Lake with races starting at 4 p.m.

The boys’ team will be seeking its sixth consecutive league title.

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