Faded hopes

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McMillen, who had established himself this season as one of the top performers in Class 3A, faded toward the end of the 5-kilometer route and finished 41st in the field of 104 runners.

Trouble at the top meant trouble for the team.

On a day when cross-country runners do everything to be at their physical best, it just didn?t happen that way for the top two runners from Hills?boro.

The Trojans, with a realistic hope of coming home from the Class 3A state race at Wamego with a top-five team finish, settled for ninth as Cody McMillen and Nicholas Mueller struggled with physical ailments along the challenging hills of the Wamego Country Club.

McMillen, who had established himself this season as one of the top performers in Class 3A, faded toward the end of the 5-kilometer route and finished 41st in the field of 104 runners.

Mueller, who had been a consistent No. 2 finisher for Hills?boro when healthy, struggled mightily to finish 80th overall and No. 6 among the seven-member Trojan squad.

?It was obvious that our top two guys had off days, but it certainly wasn?t a lack of effort or focus,? said Trojan coach Stuart Holmes.

?Cody was in the top seven and still moving up about halfway through the race when he started looking poorly, and it was clear he wasn?t his normal self. He hasn?t felt that way all year, and it was so unfortunate, as he had worked for so long to place in the top 10 at state.?

McMillen?s time was 18 minutes, 50 seconds. Early in the season the senior had run the same course in 17:52, which would have have placed him 14th at the state meet.

He had run a 17:38 the previous week at regionals, which would have placed him eighth at state.

?Everyone?s heart went out to Cody as he just didn?t hardly have any energy and did well just to finish?while a runner he had defeated earlier this year went on to take third,? Holmes said.

Mueller, meanwhile, persevered through a recurring injury to finish the race in 20:04.

?Nicholas has been battling what acts like a strained abdominal muscle for the last several weeks, which is why we held him out of the Sterling meet (Oct. 4),? Holmes said.

?Like Cody, he just didn?t have the ability to run his normal race?despite his determination.?

Almost lost in the disappointing turn of events was a solid performance by the team?s usual No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 runners. Johnny Christian led that group by finishing 61st in 19:24. He was followed closely by Nathan Vogel (62nd, 19:25), Matthew Klenda (63rd, 19:27) and Brandon McMillen (66th, 19:30).

Cody Blackketter placed 87th in 20:32.

?The rest of the guys ran well and improved their time from earlier this year on the same course,? Holmes said. ?Johnny ran very well and improved his time 2 minutes, Matthew lowered his by 1:20 and Nathan and Cody Blackketter improved by 30 seconds.

?Brandon was right with the other guys even though he didn?t run at Wamego earlier this year due to illness.?

The Trojans finished with 203 points. Scott City took the title with 75 points in a 12-team field.

Though they may be disappointed with the results, Holmes said his runners have nothing to be ashamed of.

?I was proud of the guys? effort,? he said. ?They ran very determined and gave it their best?which is all you can do.?

Marion?Both of the Warriors? two individual entries in the Class 3A boys? race finished among the top 40.

Sophomore Ryan Jones was 28th in 18:26 and classmate Louis Holt placed 38th in 18:48.

Peabody-Burns?The Warrior boys placed fifth in the field of Class 2A teams with 135 points.

Sterling, of the Mid-Central Activities Association, successfully?and relatively easily?defended its 2A title with 58 points. Runner-up Jackson Heights had 98.

For Peabody-Burns, sophomore Aaron Topham earned a medal by placing 20th in 18:33. He was followed by Duane Unruh (25th, 18:36), Kendall Wiebe (50th, 19:19), Ryan Wiebe (51st, 19:22), Sheldon Wiebe (55th, 19:35) and Joshua Klarmann (56th, 19:36).

Peabody-Burns? lone entry in the girls? race, freshman Lauren Pickens, came home with a state medal by placing 16th with a time of 17:21 over 4 kilometers.

Goessel?The Bluebird boys? placed ninth among 12 teams in Class 1A. Montezuma won the team title with 37 points while Goessel accumulated 163.

Freshman Laird Goertzen paced the team with a 46th-place finish in 19:46. He was followed by Jared Reimer (51st, 19:58), fellow freshman Johnathan Berkholz (56th, 20:11), Chad Wedel (75th, 21:03), Isaac Fast (81st, 21:43), Marius Schrewe (82nd, 21:47) and Anthony Esau (93rd, 23:08).

For the girls, sophomore Kristen Hoffman finished 22nd with a time of 17:33 over 4 kilometers. Classmate Lindsey Wedel was 48th in 19:10.

?We had a strong state performance for this being their first time,? said coach Greg Bontrager. ?I was proud of everyone.?

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