Sechrist will set the pace for Trojan cross-country runners

 The Hillsboro High cross-country program, through smaller in numbers, will feature six letter-winners. For the boys, seniors J.D. Schmidt (left) and Avery Franz will run for individual honors this year while the girls return (from left) Morganne Hamm, Emily Sechrist, Karen Leihy and Mary Leihy. With a combined roster of eight athletes for his girls? and boys? teams, Hillsboro cross-country coach Stuart Holmes will enter his 11th season aiming for quality results with a smaller-than-usual quantity of runners.

The Trojan girls, sporting the minimum five runners needed to compete as a team, will be led by junior Emily Sechrist, who is the embodiment of quality results, having earned gold and silver state medals her previous two seasons.

Sechrist won the 2011 Class 3A race as a freshman, then last fall finished 5 seconds behind Jordan Puvogel of Hiawatha, a newcomer to the 3A classification.

?(Emily) has the opportunity to once again be among the top runners in the state in our division,? Holmes said. ?Emily was the league and regional champion last year as well as the 3A state runner-up.

?Emily has again been disciplined with her training this summer and looks poised to have another great season.?

A second key contributor for the girls is Sechrist?s classmate, Karen Leihy, who is the second fastest runner in HHS program history. Leihy earned all-league honors last season by finishing eighth at the Central Kansas League meet.

?Hopefully, Karen?s experience will help her be even more successful this year,? Holmes said.

Two other returning letter-winners, senior Morganne Hamm and sophomore Mary Leihy, bring experience to the team. The addition of sophomore Lydia Kliewer as a new member would give the Trojans the needed fifth runner to compete for team honors.

With only three runners out, the Trojan boys will be vying only for individual honors this fall. Two of the boys?Avery Franz and J.D. Schmidt?are seniors and returning letter-winners.

?We look for both of them to be even more competitive this year,? Holmes said. ?Avery placed 14th at league last year to earn all-league honors.?

New to the team this fall is freshman Jonathan Hinerman, who had a strong season last year in middle school as an eighth-grader.

?One of our main goals is for each athlete to have a positive experience as they enjoy being part of a team and work at improving as a runner,? Holmes said. ?I know I?m looking forward to another great season.?

The competitive season will begin Saturday, Sept. 14, when the Trojans travel to Wamego. Races will begin at 10 a.m.

This year?s league race will be hosted by Hesston Oct. 17.

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