Hillsboro boys’ team earns state trip

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Matthew Klenda rounds a bend in the high blue?stem grass at El Dorado State Park Saturday. Klenda placed 36th out of 85 runners, and the Trojan boys edged Sedgwick to earn a place among the meet?s top three teams. A top-three finish qualified the team to run among? elite runners from across Kansas at the state meet in Wamego. Free Press photo by Don Ratzlaff

Battling warm winds and some long, uphill grades?not to mention a strong field of competitors?the Hillsboro boys? cross-country team qualified for state by finishing third in its Class 3A regional race Saturday at El Dorado State Park.

Marion, meanwhile, qualified two runners from its boys? team. Neither Hillsboro nor Marion qualified runners from their respective girls? teams.

The Hillsboro boys finished with a team score of 109 points to capture the last of three qualifying spots. Wichita Trinity won the team title with 51 points and Southeast of Saline was second with 107. Sedgwick was the fourth-place team at 125.

?The 3A competition is always excellent in this area at regionals, and that was certainly the case on Saturday,? coach Stuart Holmes said. ?The guys ran with a great deal of determination against some top competition on another windy day and were able to do what it took to qualify.?

As he has all season, senior Cody McMillen led the Trojan contingent. He placed third overall with a 5-kilometer time of 17 minutes, 38 seconds.

Also running for Hillsboro were Nicholas Mueller (14th, 18:36), Nathan Vogel (27th, 19:29), Johnathan Christian (29th, 19:32), Matthew Klenda (36th, 19:48), Brandon McMillen (37th, 19:50) and Cody Blackketter (46th, 20:10).

Eighty-five runners completed the course.

?Cody, Nicholas and Nathan were solid again at regionals and have done such a great job of leading the team all year,? Holmes said.

?Another key, of course, is how our fourth and fifth runners perform,? he added. ?Between Brandon, Johnny and Matthew, each week it seems like one or two of the three will run especially well.

?At regionals it was Johnny who really came through for the team as he ran his best race of the season to finish only three seconds behind Nathan.?

The Trojan girls struggled, meanwhile, placing 12th among the 12 schools that fielded a team.

Heidi Schroeder was Hills?boro?s top finisher, but was well out of the running for a state spot by finishing 49th in a field of 84 finishers with a 4-kilometer time of 19:13.

Also running for HHS were Jessica Elliott (56th, 19:23), Clara Ens (62nd, 19:45), Abi Humber (73rd, 20:31) and Krista Benda (76th, 20:46).

For Marion, Ryan Jones and Louis Holt qualified for state as individuals. Jones placed eighth in 18:11 and Holt snagged the final qualifying spot by crossing 11th in 18:25.

?Ryan and Louis ran excellent races,? said coach Bethany Carlson. ?They both ran personal records and persevered through the race.?

Also running for the Warrior boys? team, which placed sixth overall, were Elliott Hett (42nd, 19:49), Brady Hudson (50th, 20:19), Brandon Meierhoff (60th, 21:13), Corey Seacat (62nd, 21:15) and Isaac Hett (63rd, 21:31).

?We knew it would be tough to have our boys? team make it to state,? Carlson said. ?Overall, we were hoping for a better team placing. We are a young team and I look for us to be better next year.?

Meanwhile, the Warriors? top finisher in the girls? race was Camille Christensen, who placed 17th in 17:21. The top 10 finishers qualified for state.

?It was disappointing for Camille not to make it to state this year,? Carlson said. ?She had a great season as she struggled through the summer and season with leg soreness.

?However, I look for her and the rest of the girls to improve next year. We have a young team and a lot of possibilities.?

Also running for Marion were Amanda Richmond (25th, 17:50), Jaclyn DeForest (28th, 17:58), Tacy Taylor (41st, 18:37), Brooke Johnson (43rd, 18:46), Bridget Lundy (55th, 19:23) and Lucy Collett (71st, 20:18).

As a team, the Marion girls placed sixth.

Coming?At Saturday?s state meet at Wamego, which includes classes 1A through 4A, the 3A boys will run the last race of the day. It has a scheduled start time of 12:30 p.m.

?Getting back to state and competing well there have been key goals for the guys, and it was neat to see them accomplish the first necessary part of placing among the top three teams at regionals,? Holmes said.

?Now, much of their success at state comes down to being mentally prepared to compete with tremendous determination versus the best in the state on a very challenging course.

?It is a great opportunity.?

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