HHS cross country runs 3rd, 5th at Sterling

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Jessica Elliott keeps a steady pace on the way to a sixth-place finish at the Sterling Invitational. She and Heidi Schroeder, who placed 10th, earned their first varsity medals of the season. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press.

Battling runners from 19 other schools, not to mention a strong south wind, the Hillsboro cross-country team made an impressive debut Thursday at the Sterling Invitational.

The Trojan boys finished third and the girls fifth in their premiere appearance.

?It may have been our best meet overall this year,? coach Stuart Holmes said. ?We are always proud of all the kids that give their best effort, but certainly a highlight for this week is that 10 of our 16 competitors medaled.?

The hometown team and defending Class 2A champions from Sterling won the boys? division with 71 points. Stafford followed with 85 points and Hills?boro with 97.

Following them were Ells?worth 104, Pratt 117, Hutchinson Trinity 149, Pretty Prairie 150, Lyons 185, Larned 198, Ellinwood 253 and Kinsley 299.

Again leading the way for the Trojans was Cody McMillen, who placed fourth among 75 runners in a time of 17 minutes, 50 seconds.

?Cody beat a couple of runners that had beaten him earlier in the year, so it was a good race for him,? Holmes said.

Following him were Nathan Vogel (15th, 19.09), Brandon McMillen (19th, 19:19), Johnny Christian (25th, 19:40) and Cody Blackketter (41st, 20:19).

?It was especially great to see Brandon run so well,? Holmes said. ?It was Brandon?s first varsity medal and he earned it by doing a good job of really competing and going after people in the last half of the race.?

Christian earned the last medal issued by passing a runner in the final 100 yards.

Blackketter ran varsity in place of the Trojans? No. 2 runner, Nicholas Mueller, who was being rested for this week?s league meet.

In the girls? race, Jessica Elliott and Heidi Schroeder earned their first varsity medals of the season, placing sixth and 10th, respectively, in a field of 68 runners. Elliott covered the 4-kilometer course in 18:28 and Schroeder in 18:59.

?They probably were not among the top 10 girls there in physical strength, but they certainly made up for that with their mental strength and determination. They both ran great.?

Clara Ens (39th, 20:22) crossed next for HHS, followed by Abi Humber (50th, 21:09) and Krista Benda (51st, 21:15).

As a team, the Trojans accumulated 114 points, finishing behind Thomas More Prep 62, Hutchinson Trinity 78, Ells?worth 88 and Larned 108. Trailing HHS were Stafford 124, Ellinwood 155 and Sterling 157.

Hillsboro dominated the boys? junior varsity race, with Matthew Klenda (20:40), Jona?than King (20:46) and David Ratzloff (20:48) sweeping the top three places.

Also contributing to the team?s first-place finish were Alex Jost (sixth, 21:05), Michael Christian (11th, 22:15) and Tyrel Blecha (24th, 24:47).

Coming?The Trojans will make a run for the league title Thursday at Hoisington.

?Certainly after running so well this week (at Sterling), we look forward to competing at league,? Holmes said.

Races will begin at 4 p.m.

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