Right on track- Hillsboro, Marion excel against tough competion at Friday’s regional meet.

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Regional track-and-field meets are all about qualifying individual athletes for the state championships the following weekend.

But the team performances of both Hillsboro and Marion bordered on remarkable at Friday’s meet in Marion.

Competing in a tough field, the Trojan boys pulled an upset of sorts by winning the team title by a single point over Marion and Wichita Independent.

In the girls’ division, the Trojans finished second to a deep Independent squad while the Warriors placed fourth.

“The achievements of these young people are in direct relationship to the commitment and sacrifice they make to compete in track and field,” Hillsboro coach Dennis Boldt said. “We had a great day as teams, and we have many individual and relay qualifiers for state competition next week.”

Marion coach Grant Thierolf echoed that sentiment: “What a great day for track and field. We were very proud of our athletes. They performed magnificently.”

The boys’ team title came down to the last event of the day: the 4×400-meter relay.

Hillsboro’s team of Jacob Yoder, Josh Boese, Michael Suderman and Nate Holmes scored only a single point with a sixth-place finish. But that was enough-by the thinnest of margins-to hold off Marion, who placed fifth in the race, and Independent, who did not place.

“They didn’t qualify for state,” Boldt said of the Trojan foursome, “but they ran as if the state championship depended on their effort.”

Hillsboro finished with 66 team points while Marion and Independent tallied 65. Hesston was fourth with 61.

In the girls’ division, Independent rolled up 141 points, Hillsboro scored 90, Cheney 60 and Marion 53.

“Our girls placing fourth was the highest we have had in a number of years and we could not have asked for anything more from this group of young ladies,” Thierolf said.

“Our young men were one point out of first, once again the highest placing we have had in over a decade.”

Boys state qualifiers

The Trojan boys qualified for the state championships in eight events. The top four finishers in each regional event move on to Wichita on Friday and Saturday.

Heading the list of qualifiers is defending state pole vault champion David Funk, who cleared 14-feet to claim Hillsboro’s only gold medal.

“He knows what he wants, and he demands perfection of himself,” Boldt said of the senior and school-record holder. “We are extremely proud of his effort.”

Five Trojans placed second in their respective events: Cody McMillen in the 3,200 meters (10:23.90); Tim Funk in the 110-meter high hurdles (15.20), Nate Holmes in the 800 meters (2:01.80), Tyler Kaufman in the triple jump (41 feet, 51⁄2 inches) and Adam Dirks in the javelin (162-8).

Kaufman exceeded his career best effort by nearly 2 feet while and Dirks exceeded his personal best by around 6 feet.

Qualifying for state by placing third place were Tim Funk in the high jump (6-2) and the 4×800 team of Sean Leihy, Boese, McMillen and Holmes (8:30.70).

The Marion boys, meanwhile, claimed three gold medals. Jeremy Vondenkamp won the 110-meter hurdles (15.0), Gavin Moore won the 3,200 (10.22.60) and the 4×800 team of Gavin Moore, Russell Ploutz, Justin Heidebrecht and Jason Hett broke the string first (8:26.10).

Qualifying with second-place finishes were Vondenkamp in the 300-meter hurdles (39.70) and Emmanuel Jackson in the long jump (20-10).

“Jeremy has a chance to win two gold medals and two events at state this week and he is focused and ready to go,” Thierolf said.

Russell Ploutz qualified for state by placing third in the triple jump (40-11) and Shawn Britton did the same in shot put (46-101⁄2).

Girls state qualifiers

After sitting out for most of two meets because of a leg injury, Hillsboro’s JuliAnne Chisholm returned to form with three individual gold medals: high jump (5-4), 100-meter hurdles (15.0) and 300-meter hurdles (46.30).

“The rest over the past few weeks really gave her the opportunity to go full speed today,” Boldt said. “She doesn’t know anything but full speed, and that is why we had to make sure she was recovered from her injury before turning her loose on the track.”

Also claiming gold for Hillsboro was Hannah Marsh in the pole vault (9-0). She also took second in the 200 meters (25.70) and third in the long jump (16-51⁄2).

Also qualifying for state in individual events were Tina Frick, who placed second in the 100-meter hurdles (15.3) and fourth in 300-meter hurdles (49.40) and Chelsea Bebermeyer, who was fourth in the discus (113-5).

The Trojans also qualified two of their three relays. The 4×400 team of Frick, Carrie Schroeder, Marsh and Chisholm placed second (4:10.70) and the 4×100 team of Abi Humber, Tiffany Rooker, Shelby Koons and Tina Frick finished third (53.2).

“There is no substitute for experience at the state level, and we are extremely excited about this relay qualifying,” Boldt said of the 4×100. Of the four, only Frick has state experience.

Marion girls took their two gold medals in the distance races. Danielle Cope won the 3,200 (12:38.30) and Camille Christiansen pulled a mild upset to win the 1,600 (5:44.80).

“Camille and Danielle really gave the home crowd something to cheer for in their races,” Thierolf said. ‘They each won and have just fed off one another’s successes this year and look to the state track meet with great confidence and anticipation.”

Winning silver medals were Toni Gordon in the discus (121-6) and Erin Richmond in pole vault (8-6).

Erin Carr qualified in three events, placing third in the triple jump (33-81⁄2) and fourth in the 100 (12.60) and 200 (25.9).

“Erin ran some great sprint races,” Thierolf said. “She will do well at state and is poised to have some breakout performances this weekend.

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