Hillsboro, Marion advance to 3A state cross-country meet

Led by an individual gold-medal performance from senior Joel Allen, the Hillsboro cross-country team qualified for state Saturday with a second-place finish at the Class 3A regional race in Wichita.

?The hard work the guys have put in this year is paying off as they have met one of their goals, which was to qualify for state,? coach Stuart Holmes said. ?Now (comes) the second half of that goal, which is to run well at state.?

Allen led the pack of 82 runners over the 5-kilometer course at the Cessna Activity Center in a winning time of 16 minutes, 15 seconds for a 36-second margin over runner-up Jordan Speed of Wichita Independent.

?Joel continues his stellar season with a regional win and will look forward to competing against the best from around the state on Saturday,? Holmes said.

Contributing to Hillsboro?s team score for the top five runners were fellow medalists Bret Mueller (18:11) and Justin King (18:15), who placed eighth and ninth, and Josh Richert (20:00) and Avery Franz (20:10), who placed 34th and 38th.

Having three runners medal at regionals doesn?t happen often, Holmes said.

?Justin, in only his second season as a cross-country runner, ran another excellent race,? he said of the senior. ?Bret, only a junior, has been a terrific second runner for the team all season and joined an elite group from Hillsboro that has earned a regional medal in their junior season.?

When team scores were computed, Hillsboro and Marion were tied at 80 points. Because Trojan freshman Clay Ethridge (51st, 20:45) outran the Warriors? No. 6 runner, Clark Kroupa (58th, 21:08), the Trojans were awarded second place.

Hillsboro?s Daniel Gray finished 57th in 21:06.

?As for Clay, we had talked about the importance of all the runners,? Holmes said. ?Our sixth and seventh runners can finish ahead of another team?s runner, which adds to (the opponent?s team) score. It was good to see Daniel run so well, too.?

Wichita Independent won the boys? team title with 36 points.

For the Trojan girls, junior Samantha Ens placed 37th among 52 runners, covering the 4-k course in 19:26. Freshman Erin Wiebe posted her best time of the season, placing 41st in 19:44.

Coming?The Trojan boys will run in the 3A state race at 9 a.m. Saturday in Wamego. With a race there earlier in the season, the team will be familiar with the hilly course.

?This next week, the mental preparation is probably more important than the physical training, though we will prepare in both areas,? coach Stuart Holmes said.

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