The Hillsboro High School cross country team was in action Thursday competing at the Sterling Invitational.
The race provided one final regular season tune-up for Thursday’s MCAA league meet.
Of 17 schools, the boys’ team finished third, while the Lady Trojans came in fourth.
The boys finished with 88 points — 11 behind Hutchinson-Trinity, while the girls posted their first varsity finish of the year, grabbing fourth place.
All season, the girls have been hampered by not having enough runners to get a team score.
The underclassmen finally came through when it matters the most with Hillsboro scoring 119 points.
Class 4A Pratt ran away with the girls’ title, beating runner-up Haven by a cozy 47-96 margin.
“It was certainly a highlight to have the girls compete as a team so well,” HHS coach Stuart Holmes said. “Placing fourth out of 17 schools is excellent.”
Leading the way for the Lady Trojans was Heidi Schroeder’s 18th-place finish in the 4k with a time of 18 minutes, 31 seconds.
Breanna Blackketter has made great strides all year, and for her efforts, she was rewarded with a medal, finishing 20th out of 69 (18:35).
Samantha Ens and Jessica Elliot were within a 1/100 of a second of each other for 35th and 36th in 19:19 and 19:20, respectively.
Clara Ens rounded out the field for the girls, coming in 45th in 19:46.
“Heidi deserves a lot of credit as she still was our top runner despite hurting her wrist in PE class this week,” Holmes said. “She was determined to run through the pain and she did a great job.
“Breanna earned her first varsity medal and continues to have an outstanding freshman season, and Clara gave us a low fifth-person score which was huge in doing well as a team.
“All the girls gave a great effort, which is why the team finished so well.”
Nic Mueller paced the boys’ team, running at 18:00 for seventh place in the 5k race.
Nathan Vogel was 11th out of 80 runners on the course, finishing in 18:16 for a medal as well.
Brandon McMillen also clinched a medal with an 18:42 time for 20th place.
Robbie McClelland and David Ratzloff were 25th and 34th, respectively with times of 19:00 and 19:12.
Jonathan King finished 38th in 19:23 to complete the varsity competition.
The Trojans’ best finish of the meet came in boys’ junior varsity race.
Of 35 competitors, Cody Blackketter posted a winning time of 20:01.
Michael Christian also was a top-10 finisher, running a 21:22 for seventh place, and Scott Brandt was 34th in 28:06.
The boys’ freshman race gave Holmes a nice picture of what the future may hold for his team.
It doesn’t look bad as the race basically boiled down to Quivira Heights’ Tanner Dahlke and the Trojans’ Bret Mueller.
Dahlke crossed the line first, but Bret was far ahead of Pratt’s Cassidy Hullman finishing in 20:07.
Max Heddin and Zach Carey also competed with ninth and 16th-place times of 21:53 and 23:19.
“The boys ran better than we did at Lyons and therefore, we’re closer to Hutch-Trinity this week,” Holmes said. “I know the guys will be looking forward to competing with them as well as a number of excellent teams at regionals the week after league.
“Everyone seems really focused on continuing to improve and compete with all they’ve got as we enter the championship phase of our season. We’re looking forward to it.”
Thursday’s starting times at 4 p.m. at the Cessna Activities Center in Wichita.
The girls’ race at 4:30 p.m.