Joel Allen finished his first and last season as a Hillsboro cross-country runner with a strong second-place finish at the Class 3A state meet Saturday on the challenging Wamego Country Club course.
Allen?s runner-up time of 16 minutes, 33 seconds put him a mere two seconds behind the winner, Austin Bogina of Arma-Northeast.
It also led the Trojan team to sixth place among 12 teams with 141 points. Wichita Independent claimed the team title with 82 points.
Allen said he was pleased with his time, which was 26 seconds faster than he ran the course earlier in the season when he won the Wamego Invita?tional by nearly one minute.
?I ran a really good race and I felt like I left almost all of it out there on the course,? Allen said. ?The fact that I took second didn?t take anything away from my time, by any means.?
Allen, who transferred into the Hillsboro district as a junior after last year?s cross-country season, said it helped to have run the hilly course earlier this season. But running against tougher competition then would have helped him more at state.
Allen and Bogina exchanged leads several times Saturday, with Allen pushing ahead on the uphills and Bogina on the downhills.
Allen said the outcome of the race may have turned on one of the final hills, when he attacked it aggressively and didn?t have quite enough gas left to catch Bogina on the final downhill to the finish line.
?When we came around the curve and came up to that hill, I should have stayed right on his heels there and saved my energy for that downhill and gone with him there,? said Allen, who did close a gap of 15 to 20 meters late in the race to about 2 or 3 meters at the finish line.
?Austin, to his credit, ran a very smart race against me on that course and it really played to his strengths,? he said. ?It ended up that the way I ran it played to his strengths, too.?
Coach Stuart Holmes said Allen?s time would have won the 3A race the previous three years, and it broke Aaron Yoder?s 2003 mark of 16:39 as the fastest HHS time ever at state. Allen?s second-place finish was the highest ever by a Trojan.
?Joel ran an outstanding race and did everything it takes to win a state championship, but just came up short,? Holmes said.
The Trojan coach also was pleased with the effort of his other runners: Justin King (24th, 18:21), Bret Mueller (35th, 18:38), Josh Richert (41st, 18:48), Avery Franz (90th, 20:27), Clay Ethe?ridge (93rd, 20:38) and Daniel Gray (96th, 21:15).
?Not only did every runner push through the discomfort that you must endure on such a hilly course, but everyone improved on their time from Wamego earlier this season,? Holmes said.
?Overall, it?s been a great season with this group of guys for surpassing what some might have expected at the start of the season,? he added
Holmes noted that if team members? times had been averaged instead of compiled, the Trojans would have finished second at state.
Area schools were represented as individuals at this year?s state races in Wamego. Pictured from left are Elizabeth Goentzel of Marion, Sheldon Wiebe of Peabody-Burns, Lauren Pickens of Peabody-Burns, Brittny Czarnowski of Goessel and Laird Goertzen of Goessel. Hillsboro and Marion boys were represented by full teams.
Led by Jordan Hett?s sixth-place finish, Marion boys placed ninth among 12 teams in 3A.
Hett crossed the finish line in 17:30, less than a second behind the fifth-place finisher, Zach Hartwell of Norton Community.
Crossing next for Marion was Patrick McCarty, who placed 22nd in 18:15, missing a state medal by only two spots.
He was followed by Jacob Cope (48th, 18:56), Michael Kirk?patrick (72nd, 19:32), Timothy Knolla (86th, 20:16), Derek Stuchlik (91st, 20:28) and Clark Kroupa (95th, 20:58).
In the 2A boys? race, Peabody-Burns? Sheldon Wiebe placed 24th in 18:22 and Lauren Pickens was 28th in the 4-kilometer girls? race with a time of 17:41.
In 1A, Brittny Czarnowski of Goessel placed 24th in the girls? race in 17:55 while the Bluebirds? Laird Goertzen crossed the boys? finish line in 29th place and a time of 19:01.