Competing on its home turf, the Hillsboro track team qualified five events for state competition with four first-place performances and one third-place finish at Friday?s Class 3A regional at Joel H. Wiens Stadium.
Senior Joel Allen led the way, winning the 3,200 and 1,600 meters and running a leg on the 4×800 team that finished third. Joining Allen on that foursome were Josh Richert, Justin King and Bret Mueller.
Meanwhile, sophomore Shaq Thiessen won the long jump and Callie Serene will be the sole representative from the girls? team after winning the 800 meters.
Thiessen was the first Trojan to secure a state berth, winning the long jump on his first attempt with a leap of 22 feet, 23?4 inches?the best mark not just at th is meet, but of any state qualifier at the four regional sites.
The winning jump came shortly after Thiessen failed to qualify in his other speciality, the high jump.
?Shaq Thiessen was an example of not letting one event hinder another,? coach Dennis Boldt said. ?It is a credit to his athleticism, but also to the fact that he didn?t let what I am sure was a disappointment carry over to the next event. Many times being able to focus on one event results in great performances.?
Allen was the first Trojan runner to qualify by winning the 3,200 in 10:08.81, edging runner-up Jordan Hett of Marion by less than two seconds.
The 4×800 team was the next to punch a ticket to state. The trick was to qualify by finishing among the top four teams while trying to help Allen preserve some gas for the 1,600, which was to follow within a half hour.
?Having a short time until the 1,600, he needed to cruise the final part of the race to save energy,? Boldt said. ?This is the type of teamwork that exemplifies this group of middle distance/distance runners this season. With more time between races this weekend, there will be more time for recovery.?
The Trojan 4×800 finished in 8:30.82, a little over eight seconds behind the winning team from Wichita Independent, but almost 20 seconds ahead of four-place Lyons. The time was the sixth-best recorded at the four regional sites.
Allen went on to corral the 1,600 title in a time of 4:35.73, edging Peter Reed of Sterling by less than a half-second and third-place Hett by a little over two seconds. Allen?s time in both the 3,200 and 1,600 were the best among the four regionals.
?He showed great poise and finished each race strong, not wanting to be denied the title of regional champion,? Boldt said of Allen?s individual performances. ?He is the catalyst of our team, a leader by example, and he deserves through his hard work and dedication the day he had today.?
Serene, meanwhile, led the 800 race from start to finish, breaking the string in a time of 2:26.80, the second-fastest time recorded at regionals.
?The 800 is a tough race in the fact that girls get bunched together and many times strides get broken, which is extremely difficult to recover from,? Boldt said. ?Callie jumped out early, running an incredible first split, was strong through the 600 mark and gutted it out to finish first.?
Hillsboro had several athletes who just missed qualifying, or had their best performance of the season but came up short.
The toughest outcome involved sophomore Mitchell Day, who missed fourth place in the 100 meters by 0.02 seconds.
?Mitchell?s race, like many, had to be judged through the finish camera,? Boldt said. ?Races were tight and you better have brought your ?A? game to Hillsboro, or you might have been disappointed.?
Boldt was pleased with Hillsboro?s first effort to host a regional in more than 20 years.
?It?s nice that the road to the state track meet goes through Hillsboro this year,? he said. ?We had an outstanding day, the weather held, and the patrons of this community worked together to create a great atmosphere for these young people.
?Robert Rempel (HHS activities director) worked extremely hard to get things put together and for that he should be commended. It was a great meet.?