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Fourth-ranked boys capture MCAA cross-country crown

Lady Trojans finish sixth

Sports writer

Winning an MCAA league title in boys’ cross-country is nothing new for Trojan coach Stuart Holmes.

He fields a top-10 team every year, but the trick is seeing whether the momentum can finally bring home a class 3A state title along with a regional title.

Hillsboro reigned supreme again Thursday at the league meet in Wichita at the Cessna Activity Center with the boys winning the title with ease, edging runner-up Sterling by a cozy 58-73 margin out of the nine teams.

“The guys ran very determined races today, what a total team effort,” Holmes said. “All the varsity guys really came through with an outstanding effort.

“This group has worked extremely hard not only during the season, but have shown great dedication to their running during the offseason. It was great to see their dedication pay off with a league championship.”

Outside of sensational freshman Breanna Blackketter finishing seventh in 18 minutes, five seconds, many of the Lady Trojans suffered through rough outings as Hillsboro finished sixth of seven with 120 points.

“We didn’t place in the top-three like we were hoping,” Holmes said. “All the girls ran hard and gave a great effort so I was proud of them.”

With Nic Mueller pacing the boys with a third-place time of 17:47, the other six runners all managed to place in the top 22.

Nathan Vogel came in 10th (18:33), while Brandon McMillen, Robbie McClelland, and David Ratzloff had a heated battle to stay inside the top-15.

McMillen was 14th (18:45), McClelland took 15th in 18:50, and Ratzloff finished 16th, three seconds behind McClelland.

Jonathan King secured a top-20 finish in 19:04 with Matthew Klenda coming in 22nd in 19:18.

For the second consecutive meet freshman Bret Mueller showed he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

Bret won his second junior varsity meet in a row, topping all 44 runners with a time of 19:24.

He had to hold off a valiant effort from teammate Cody Blackketter, who closed out his career with a third-place time of 19:54.

Max Heddin posted the third best time for the Hillsboro JV, running a 20:37 for seventh.

Michael Christian ran a 21-flat for 12th and Scott Brandt rounded out the Trojan field with a 26:23 for 40th.

“Bret ran a terrific JV race to win today in an excellent time and continues to show a lot of determination,” Holmes said. “Cody also finished his career with another gritty effort. We’ll miss his ‘go-get-em’ attitude next year.”

Fresh off a record-setting performance two weeks ago and securing a medal last year at the league meet, Heidi Schroeder suffered through a humbling day.

Hampered by sickness during the week not to mention a wrist injury, Schroeder was 23rd out of 50 runners with a time of 19:20.

“I felt especially bad for Heidi as she medaled at league last year,” Holmes said. “She’s been ill this week and just didn’t have the physical stamina to run her normal race today.”

Taylor Nikkel finished second for the Lady Trojans, running a 19:40 for 28th.

Jessica Elliot was two seconds and two spots behind Nikkel.

Clara and Samantha Ens were 32nd and 36th with respective times of 19:54 and 20:01.

Up next for the Trojans is regional competition Friday at Gypsum, hosted by the boys’ top-ranked team, Southeast of Saline, with the top three teams advancing.

The girls’ race starts at 2:30 p.m. with the boys’ starting a half-hour later.

“Looking ahead to regionals should produce some excellent races as our region has four of the top-six ranked teams in 3A boys and the second, third, and fourth ranked teams in 3A girls,” Holmes said.

“Our boys will be focused and looking forward to running well. With only three teams from each regional of 16 schools qualifying for state, we’ll need to be ready to run smart, determined races next week as well.

“Our girls also will be looking forward to competing at Southeast of Saline as we have run well there in the past.”

Last modified Oct. 22, 2008

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