Hillsboro?s three state track and field veterans earned a return trip to the biggest show in Kansas high school track and field at Friday? regional track meet in Beloit, but it was the qualifying performance of the Trojans? upstart 4×800 relay team that captured the imagination of head coach Dennis Boldt.
?The race of the day, and the results of the day, would have to go to the girls? 4×800 team of Brittany Schale, Karyn Leihy, Kennedy Klein and Abby Sechrist,? Boldt said. ?We knew going in that we were ranked fifth (at the regional), but have not put together our best times in the same race yet this year.
?Simply stated, they did that today as they ran their best combined times by over 20 seconds. These girls have worked extremely hard and had a goal of qualifying for state.?
Entries must finish among the top four finishers to qualify for state. After the first three legs of the race, the Trojans were in fifth place.
Freshman Abby Sechrist, trailing the Southeast of Saline runner by about 15 meters when she received the baton, pulled ahead by the end of the first lap, then built a 10-second lead by the time she crossed the finish line.
The team?s time was 10 minutes 24.39 seconds, a little over three seconds behind the wining team from Scott Community.
Competing in a cool and overcast day with periods of heavy mist, Hillsboro?s three state veterans came though in strong form.
Senior Emily Sechrist qualified in her three distance races for the third year in a row. Sechrist won the 3,200 in 12:08.11 and the 1,600 in 5:29.50. She placed third in the 800 in 2:29.41.
Fellow senior Grant Knoll will return in his two distance races after second-place finishes in each. Knoll?s time was 4:48.22 in the 1,600 and 10:46.53 in the 3,200.
Junior Marah Franz earned her return ticket in the pole vault by clearing 10 feet. Seven of the 20 girls in the field cleared 9 feet.
?It would be easy to take for granted our returning state qualifiers Marah Franz, Emily Sechrist and Grant Knoll, but they knew that they would have to come ready to compete, and these three did so in a big way,? Boldt said. ?We couldn?t be more proud.?
Sophomore Jonathan Hinerman just missed a state berth, finishing fifth in the 1,600?three seconds behind the fourth-place runner.
?We are very proud with the performances of all our athletes,? Boldt said. ?We prepared for poor weather, working out in rainy conditions throughout the week, making sure that our athletes knew what to expect.?
Looking to state?The state track and field meet will begin Friday and continue through Saturday at Cessna Stadium on the campus of Wichita State Univer?sity.
Emily Sechrist will be the first Trojan to compete. The 3,200-meter run is scheduled for an 8:25 a.m. start Friday. Grant Knoll will compete in the boys? 3,200 immediately after the girls? race.
At 11:30 a.m. Friday, Marah Franz will compete in pole vault.
On Saturday, the 4×800 relay is scheduled for a 10:30 start. In the afternoon, Sechrist will run the 1,600 at 1:20 and the 800 at 5:05.
Referring to the 4×800 team, coach Dennis Boldt said, ?We will be taking six athletes for their first state track appearance, which include Callie Linnens and Chloe Pankratz, who also have competed on this relay throughout the season.?